Russian Federation banned from 2018 Winter Olympics over doping

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The Olympic and Russian flaghs at the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

At the IOC's Congress in Lima to award the 2024 Summer Olympics to Paris and 2028 Games to Los Angeles, 17 national anti-doping agencies including the United States, France, Germany and Britain demand Russia's exclusion from Pyeongchang, calling it "one of the biggest doping scandals in sporting history".

The absence of Russian athletes would sap many events of top competitors.

Released in two phases, the McLaren Report concluded that Russia's scheme involved more than 1,000 Russian athletes - and that it also included plans both for manipulating doping controls and for covering up the system. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the doping charges against Russia "a risky return to this policy of letting politics interfere with sport".

Speaking at the press conference announcing the ruling of the IOC Executive was Samuel Schmid, the Swiss politician who led the IOC inquiry into whether anti-doping subterfuge was carried out with the backing of the Russian government. Their uniforms will bear this name and they will participate under the Olympic flag.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sets up an independent commission headed by its former chief, Dick Pound, to investigate the claims.

The ban does offer a pathway for individual, clean Russian athletes to still participate in the upcoming Games in Pyeongchang, which start February 9.

In barring Russia's team, Olympic officials left the door open for some Russian athletes. Some Russian MPs immediately raised the possibility that Russia may boycott the Winter Olympics, with the first deputy speaker of Russia's parliament, Ivan Melnikov, saying it would be "incorrect" for Russia's team to travel to Pyeongchang under a neutral flag. The New York Times is pondering whether Russian Federation being banned could result in entire sports (like the biathlon and cross-country skiing) being completely removed from competition, considering how dominant Russian Federation was in these categories at previous Games. The commission relied heavily on the testimony of former Moscow laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said she was with the country's athletes in spirit.

There had been suggestions beforehand that such a punishment might lead to a wholesale Russian boycott of the Winter Olympics. Some Russian officials have threatened to boycott if the International Olympic Committee delivered such a severe punishment.

In the space of one month the International Olympic Committee dishes out similar sanctions to 25 Russians from Sochi Games. So far the figure stands at 25 athletes, with 11 medals stripped.

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