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Russia suspended from Winter Olympics, clean athletes can compete as neutrals

Russia suspended from Winter Olympics, clean athletes can compete as neutrals

05/12/2017 at 18:32Updated 05/12/2017 at 22:09

The IOC have announced that there will be no Russia team at the Winter Olympics - but Russian athletes will be able to compete as neutrals.

The ruling followed an investigation and report into what the IOC called "the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia".

Individuals who can prove they are clean will be invited to participate under a neutral flag and referred to as "Olympic athletes from Russia".

"This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by Wada," said IOC president Thomas Bach.

The IOC also decided to suspend Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko was also banned from any future participation at the Olympic Games.

The IOC told a news conference that the Schmid report confirmed "the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia." Samuel Schmid, author of the report, told journalists: "The results are not based only on (Russia's former anti-doping chief-turned-whistleblower) Grigoory Rodchenkov's testimony. There is scientific evidence, witness statements documents and correspondence.

"The facts are that in Russia there was systemic manipulation of doping and the anti-doping system... that also took place at Sochi 2014 (Winter Olympics)."

Many Russian sporting figures were outraged by the decision, with Alexander Zubkov, president of the Russian bobsleigh federation, telling Reuters by telephone: "I am simply shocked by what is happening and what happened and by Thomas Bach’s decision regarding our country and our athletes."

The IOC's decision comes 18 months after it had refused an outright ban of Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and told international sports federations to decide individually on the participation of Russians in Brazil. While all the track and field athletes bar one and the entire weightlifting team were banned from Rio, about 70 percent of Russia's original 387-strong squad took part at those Games.

Bach said on Tuesday, however, that the situation was different now.

"(Ahead of Rio) there was no opportunity to hear the Russian side and at the time of Rio it was mainly about the failure in the Moscow lab. Now it's about the manipulation of an Olympic lab. The conditions then and now are totally different."

The Schmid report said the IOC had not found any documented, independent and impartial evidence confirming the support or the knowledge of this (anti-doping manipulation) system by the highest State authority.

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