Winter Olympics: IOC sees over 20000 drugs tests in Pyeongchang lead-up

Tricia Pearson
December 6, 2017

The IOC announced the decision after examining evidence of state-sponsored doping over several years that reached its zenith at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Last summer, facing similar calls to exclude Russia from the Rio Olympics, the IOC pushed the decision onto the worldwide federations of individual sports, allowing them to choose which Russian athletes could compete.

The suspension follows a report of findings by the International Olympic Committee, led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, that address the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russian Federation. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and his deputy minister Yuri Nagornykh are banned from all future editions of the Olympics.

Moscow has denied any state involvement in the doping of Russian athletes.

President Putin warns of Russian "humiliation" and serious harm to the Olympic movement if the country is forced to compete under a neutral flag or excluded altogether. The IOC is set to decide later on the level of Russia's participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as calls to ban the country over suspected state-sponsored doping grow louder.

In a statement released after it met in Lausanne, Switzerland, the committee said it had acted upon the recommendations of an IOC commission headed by the former Swiss President Samuel Schmid to investigate Russian doping.

The IOC's decision to choose a more moderate path, instead of a blanket ban, does offer some Russian athletes a path to competing in the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea - although that will be by invitation only and dependent on a stringent testing programme.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko attends an event for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko attends an event for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow

Banning an entire country from the Games is an unprecedented move for the IOC.

The news will be greeted with relief in many quarters, especially after the International Olympic Committee flinched from banning Russian Federation from last year's Rio Olympics despite a report from the respected Canadian law professor Richard McLaren in July 2016 which found that the country's government, security services and sporting authorities colluded to hide widespread doping across "a vast majority" of winter and summer sports.

On Tuesday, that punishment came down.

Should Russia boycott the decision, it would mark the first time it has missed the Olympics since boycotting in 1984.

Russian officials reacted to the decision by attacking it as unfair.

The Russian doping scandal has hit world sport and the country itself hard, as medal after medal has been stripped from the hosts of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The commission based its findings on an independent report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and published past year.

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