Russia Banned From Olympics

Russia’s Olympic Committee was banned from the Pyeong Chang Olympics due to the nation’s doping scandal, but individual Russian athletes will be invited to compete at the Winter Games as neutrals under the Olympic Flag.

Russian athletes deemed clean by a panel will be invited to compete under the name Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).

No Russian flag, anthem or uniforms (except for, possibly, the Closing Ceremony).

Rather, if an OAR athlete or team wins gold, the Olympic Anthem will play just as it did for the Unified Team at the 1992 Albertville Games.

The IOC said athletes will be invited via “strict conditions” detailed here:

Athletes must not have had a doping violation.
Athletes must have undergone pre-Games targeted drug tests recommended by a testing task force.
Athletes must have undergone any other testing requirements specified to ensure a level playing field.

This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release, adding that he does not anticipate a boycott by Russian athletes. “The IOC [executive board], 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 [the World Anti-Doping Agency].”

The decision clears a path to PyeongChang for Russian stars like figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva and short track speed skater Viktor Ahn.

The International Ice Hockey Federation was not ready to comment on the situation immediately after the announcement, according to hockey media.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is expected to comment on the decision Wednesday, according to Russian media.

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