Dec. 5 (UPI) — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday banned the entire Russian Olympic team from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, over a doping scandal — with the games two months away.
The IOC made the ruling after a yearlong investigation into systematic, state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes.
“This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC [executive board], after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by [the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
The ban does offer a pathway for individual, clean Russian athletes to still participate in the upcoming Games in Pyeongchang, which start Feb. 9.
The qualifying athletes will compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” and compete under the Olympic flag. Should any of those athletes win a gold medal, the Olympic anthem will play instead of the Russian anthem.
The Pyeongchang games run through Feb. 25.