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Russia's Olympic Team Barred From 2018 Winter Games For Doping

By: huffingtonpost.com.au 2 months ago
Russia's Olympic Team Barred From 2018 Winter Games For Doping

A new report confirmed "the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia."

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Russia’s Olympic team will not be allowed to compete in the 2018 Winter Games following the discovery that the country executed an elaborate program allowing athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs, including during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee Tuesday.

An IOC report confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia,” the organization said in a statement. The decision follows a 17-month investigation led by former president of Switzerland Samuel Schmid.

Official record books for the Olympics • which will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next year • will permanently show that Russia did not win any medals. However, individual Russian athletes will be able to compete wearing a neutral uniform, The New York Times reports.

The lawyer of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory who peeled back the layers of Russia’s state-run doping program in a 2016 New York Times report, said in a statement Tuesday that the IOC’s decision sent a “powerful message.” Rodchenkov’s story is further explored in the Netflix documentary “Icarus” released earlier this year.

“As the world has seen, Dr. Rodchenkov provided credible and irrefutable evidence of the Russian state-sponsored doping system, which was ultimately supervised and financed by then-Minister of Sports Vitaly Mutko and other high-level government officials,” lawyer Jim Walden said in a statement. “The decision to bar Russia’s official participation in the Winter Olympics makes abundantly clear to Russia, and all countries, that there are serious consequences for flouting the rules of the international community.” 

A livestream taken by Russia Today showed Russia’s Olympic skiing team hearing the news firsthand. Video showed the athletes looking dejected.

In a phone conference with reporters, Walden stressed that his client “doesn’t wish ill will on Russia” or its “clean Russian athletes.” 

“What he wishes is that the world would come together and stop paying lip service to the need for anti-doping reform,” Walden said.

The lawyer said thousands of Russian athletes have likely been involved in the doping scandal at Olympic and lower levels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously referred to Rodchenkov of being “a man with a scandalous reputation.” 

Rodchenkov fled Russia in 2016 after Moscow issued an arrest warrant for the doctor. He now lives in the U.S., but said he is worried about his family still living in Russia.

“He’s very concerned and worried about his family,” Walden said. “Russia’s sunk to some amazing depths in this case rather than face the truth, and he just hopes the Russian government will do the right thing with his family, and leave them alone.”

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