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IOC suspends Russian Olympic Committee for 2018 Games

Last Updated Dec 5, 2017 at 1:55 pm EDT

The International Olympic Committee has suspended the Russian National Olympic Committee for the 2018 Games as a result of a doping scandal, but clean Russian athletes can compete under a neutral flag.

Russia’s doping scandal began coming to light in December 2014, when an ARD documentary on German TV alleged that Russian officials systemically accepted payments from athletes to supply banned substances and cover up positive tests. In it, former discus thrower Yevgeniya Pecherina claimed that “most, the majority, 99 per cent” of top international level Russian athletes cheated.

That prompted both the International Association of Athletics Federations and WADA to begin investigations, with former WADA president Dick Pound leading an independent commission that confirmed the ARD report in December 2015.

“It’s worse than we thought,” Pound said at the time.

Richard McLaren, another Canadian who was part of Pound’s team on the initial probe, was tasked the following May with leading an independent investigation into Russia’s actions after whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s anti-doping lab who defected to the U.S. in 2015, detailed how the Sochi Games had been fixed to the New York Times.

McLaren released an interim report in mid-July before the 2016 Rio Olympics corroborating Rodchenkov’s claims, but while the IAAF decided to ban Russian track and field athletes from those Games, the IOC did not.

“Justice has to be independent of politics,” Bach said then.

The full report in December included data from computer hard drives, databases and emails that supported witness testimony on how post-competition urine samples of Russian athletes were systemically swapped out of the Sochi lab through a hole in the wall, and replaced with clean samples stored in a nearby building occupied by the FSB.

“It is impossible to know how deep and how far back this conspiracy goes,” McLaren said during the announcement.

Russian government and sports officials have consistently denied the claims, but 25 Russians that competed in Sochi have since been punished retroactively for doping, costing the country 11 medals.