Russia barred from 2018 Olympics, but some athletes will be allowed to compete
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Russians will be allowed to compete at the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics as neutral athletes despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday.
The IOC ruled that some Russians will be invited to compete as an ‘‘Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)’’ without their national flag or anthem.
Russia could refuse the offer and boycott the games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.
‘‘An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything,’’ IOC President Thomas Bach said at a news conference. ‘‘Secondly, I don’t see any reason for a boycott by the Russian athletes because we allow the clean athletes there to participate.’’
Putin is expected to speak publicly about the ruling in Moscow on Wednesday.
The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, and banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from the Olympics for life. Mutko was the sports minister in 2014 and is the head of the organizing committee of soccer’s next World Cup.
The IOC also imposed a fine of $15 million on the Russian Olympic committee to pay for investigations into the case and toward future anti-doping work.
The sanctions could be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Russian doping program caused ‘‘unprecedented damage to Olympism and sports,’’ said IOC-appointed investigator Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland who was asked to verify an ‘‘institutional conspiracy.’’
Russia has repeatedly refused to accept that a state-sponsored doping program existed. Such denials helped ensure bans on its track federation and anti-doping agency have not been lifted.
Instead, Russia blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories, as a rogue employee. It wants the scientist extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.
The executive board reached its decision Tuesday after a scheduled 4½-hour debate when it heard from a Russian delegation that included world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva. The delegation was led by Zhukov, who was later suspended.
Two IOC commission leaders — appointed after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren upheld Rodchenkov’s doping claims in July 2016 — also reported to the Olympic board.
Schmid’s report included a 50-page sworn affidavit from Rodchenkov, who was also a key witness for McLaren and an IOC disciplinary commission.
The chairman of that disciplinary panel, Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, reported about prosecuting Russian athletes implicated in cheating at the 2014 Sochi Games. By Monday, 25 Russians had been disqualified from the Sochi Games and banned from the Olympics for life, and 11 medals were stripped. One Russian was cleared.
Russia no longer leads the Sochi medals table. Even before the IOC reallocates the stripped medals, the United States has the most total medals and Norway has the most golds.
The banned Russian athletes have said they will appeal against the Oswald judgments at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
Any sanctions imposed by the IOC can also be challenged at CAS, and later at Switzerland’s supreme court, which can intervene if legal process has been abused.
The IOC said a panel of officials chaired by former France Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron will decide which athletes to accept at the Olympics in February.
Here are the actions taken by the IOC, as stated in an IOC news release:
■ To suspend the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) with immediate effect.
■ To invite individual Russian athletes under strict conditions (see below) to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
■ Not to accredit any official from the Russian Ministry of Sport for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
■ To exclude the then Minister of Sport, Mr Vitaly Mutko, and his then Deputy Minister, Mr. Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games.
■ To withdraw Mr Dmitry Chernyshenko, the former CEO of the Organising Committee Sochi 2014, from the Coordination Commission Beijing 2022.
■ To suspend ROC President Alexander Zhukov as an IOC Member, given that his membership is linked to his position as ROC President.
■ The IOC reserves the right to take measures against and sanction other individuals implicated in the system.
■ The ROC to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC on the investigations and to contribute to the establishment of the Independent Testing Authority (ITA) for the total sum of USD 15 million, to build the capacity and integrity of the global anti-doping system.
■ The IOC may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.
■ The IOC will issue operational guidelines for the implementation of these decisions.
IOC guidelines for Russian athletes
Here are the conditions athletes must meet in order to participate in the games Feb. 9-27 in South Korea, as stated in an IOC news release:
■ The invitation list will be determined, at its absolute discretion, by a panel chaired by Valerie Fourneyron, Chair of the [Independent Testing Authority]. The panel will include members of the Pre-Games Testing Task Force: one appointed by WADA, one by the DFSU and one by the IOC, Dr Richard Budgett.
■ This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
– It can only consider athletes who have qualified according to the qualification standards of their respective sport
– Athletes must be considered clean to the satisfaction of this panel.
■ Athletes must not have been disqualified or declared ineligible for any Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
■ Athletes must have undergone all the pre-Games targeted tests recommended by the Pre-Games Testing Task Force.
■ Athletes must have undergone any other testing requirements specified by the panel to ensure a level playing field.
■ The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list.
■ These invited athletes will participate, be it in individual or team competitions, in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete with a uniform bearing this name and under the Olympic Flag. The Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
■ These invited athletes will enjoy the same technical and logistical support as any other Olympic athlete.
■ The panel, at its absolute discretion, will determine an invitation list for support staff and officials.
■ This panel will be guided in its decisions by the following principles:
– No member of the leadership of the Russian Olympic Team at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 can be included on the invitation list.
–No coach or medical doctor whose athlete has been found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation can be included on the invitation list. All coaches and medical doctors included on the invitation list must sign a declaration to this effect.
– Any other requirement considered necessary to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games.
■ The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the support staff and officials to be invited from the list.