The International Olympic Committee ruled Tuesday that Russia will be completely banned from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics as a result of the country's "unprecedented" doping scandal.
"The country's government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound," The New York Times reported from Tuesday's IOC meeting in Switzerland. "Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals."
More than two dozen Russian athletes had already been banned from participation in the wake of a November claim by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that Russia had been non-compliant in anti-doping standards. That followed a year-old investigation into an alleged "state-backed doping program," which suggested Russia had enabled hundreds of Olympic athletes to avoid or skew tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
Many of the same Russians banned from the 2018 Games also had medals retroactively removed from their 2014 Sochi Games competition as part of IOC sanctions. This isn't the first time the IOC has completely barred a nation from competing at the Olympics, but it is a first for doping-relating offenses.
The IOC banning Russia from the 2018 Olympic Games is not the first time IOC has banned a nation--South Africa was banned for its apartheid policy and Afghanistan was banned for discrimination against women--but reason for ban here is more about allegations of sports corruption. https://t.co/cIjiAyMkrE— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) December 5, 2017
While Tuesday's announcement clears up Russia's status for the 2018 Winter Games, this story isn't ending anytime soon. Especially with Russia set to host the next World Cup.
Expect questions about Russia's rampant cheating to center on Vitaly Mutko, now Russia's deputy prime minister. Olympic officials have banned him for life from attending the Games. He is in charge of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.— Rebecca R. Ruiz (@RebeccaRuiz) December 5, 2017
And while the IOC's ruling is a major blow to Russia, it's also a letdown for the 2018 Winter Games, which won't feature any current NHL players and is already facing historically low interest among fans who are leery of traveling to South Korea given rising geopolitical tensions with an increasingly assertive North Korea.
At this rate, they ought to just remove hockey from the Olympics entirely and do a street hockey tournament in the 2020 Summer Games— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 5, 2017
The United States Olympic Committee released a brief statement on Russia's ban.
"The IOC took a strong and principled decision. There were no perfect options, but this decision will clearly make it less likely that this ever happens again. Now it is time to look ahead to PyeongChang."
On Twitter, reactions to the ruling ran the gamut.
By sanctioning Russia, Olympic officials place honor and integrity above money and politics. Russia under Putin is shown, once again, to place winning above the rule of law, above honesty, and above the interests of its own athletes.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 5, 2017
Russian athletes react to IOC decision to ban Russia 2018 Winter Olympics, allowing athletes' neutral participation— Ruptly (@Ruptly) December 5, 2017
Watch LIVE: https://t.co/SBncjJaw7t pic.twitter.com/7YqjXBXtjO
So the American team has to go as Russiamerica? Amerussia? Amirite? https://t.co/f5ECMTTLsZ— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) December 5, 2017
KHL had threatened that if RUS players couldn’t compete under their flag, KHL may not shut its season down for scheduled Olympic break and may not permit any KHL contracted players from any country to leave their club team...— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 5, 2017
Mutko banned for life by IOC. He’s boss of World Cup in Russia.— Josh Oates (@MesutOatesil) December 5, 2017
Meanwhile we cut to Russia’s preparations for the biggest sporting event they’ve ever hosted... pic.twitter.com/m5KszUfm4I