IOC bans Russia from 2018 Winter games as punishment for operating a doping program.
The International Olympic Committee has just announced the Russian Olympic Committee has been banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics for "systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system.''
Today's unprecedented decision was based on the findings of the International Olympic Committee's Schmid Commission, which was formed in July 2016 to examine the role of Russian officials and institutions in organized doping. The commission, headed by IOC member and former Swiss president Samuel Schmid, relied heavily on the testimony of former Moscow laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, according to ESPN.
Russia's individual athletes will still be able to compete in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games, provided they meet standards determined by an IOC-convened panel, according to the report. Those athletes who wish to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics will have to be invited by the panel and will compete under the Olympic flag.
IOC President Thomas Bach addressed the decision:
"This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC EB, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA.
"As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. Working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium."
The 2018 Winter Olympics, taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are scheduled to get underway roughly two months from now on February 9th and conclude on February 25th.