Russia has been officially banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The news was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday the 5th of December. This announcement follows the conclusion of a 17-month investigation into Russian athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Russia banned from 2018 Games and Fines
The investigation from the IOC concluded that there was a “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia”. This took place during the course of the Winter Olympic games held in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. The IOC announced that Russia would be banned from competing in the 2018 games and also handed the country a $15 million fine.
The IOC President, Thomas Bach, went as far as to say that this attack on the integrity of the Olympics was unprecedented. If any Russian athletes wish to compete in 2018, they will need to prove without a shadow of a doubt that they are clean. However, they will compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia”. This means they will be forbidden from displaying the countries flag, wearing any Russian symbols, and the Russian anthem will never be played during the games.
Russia Encourage Athletes to Break the Rules
During the course of the investigation, it became clear that officials from Russia actively encouraged athletes to take performance-enhancing substances. There was also a coordinated effort to make sure the doping tests never showed anything. A report from the New York Times revealed that Russian operatives regularly broke into the Olympic lab responsible for screening athletes, and changed the tainted urine samples for clean ones that would pass the tests.
The Sochi Winter Games also has the distinction of becoming the most expensive Winter games of all time. Initially, Russia allocated $12 billion to host the games, but in the end, costs skyrocketed to $51 billion. This is believed to have been caused by massive corruption among government officials.
Sochi will also play host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which the USA has unfortunately not qualified for.