20 February 2018

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State Doping, the IOC excludes Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics

Some athletes will be able to participate individually and with strict procedures. The national flag will not be admitted and in case of victory the Olympic anthem will resound. Russian vice-premier Vitaly Mutko, head of the World Cup organization, has been banned for life. Moscow speaks of an "unjust and immoral" choice. The United States exults.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games scheduled in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting next February 9th. Behind yesterday’s  "unprecedented" decision in the history is the systematic state sponsored doping of athletes in previous events and, in particular, at the last Olympics in Sochi (Russia) in 2014 .

The leaders of the highest international sports organization have also arranged that "some" Russian athletes can take part in the Games "respecting strict rules".  These athletes will be able to compete as individuals, the national flag will not be exposed at the opening ceremony and the medal stand will always show zero medals for Russia.

The announcement of Russia’s ban from the Olympics is the result of a long investigation launched following the previous Games, in which the host country ranked first in the medal standings. The IOC experts have proven the "systematic" practice of state doping planned by Moscow to ensure the victory of their athletes.

The IOC has also ordered a lifetime ban for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, held - according to charges – to be chiefly responsible for the scandal; at the time of the Sochi Games he was the minister of sport. The decision casts a shadow on his continuing to lead the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, scheduled for next summer in Russia.

In a note IOC president Thomas Bach,  speaks of "an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport in general". To date the provision of disqualification for life involved 25 Russian athletes and even today the body responsible for doping controls accuses Russia of not complying with international directives. The announcement also concerns the Russian Paralympic Committee; the final decision on a possible reinstatement will be taken on December 22nd in London.

The President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov, immediately accused the IOC of punishing clean athletes. A decision, he adds, that is both "unjust and immoral", a "humiliation" as well as "a punch to the stomach " that "contradicts" the "basic principles" of Olympic sport. "Everyone - he concluded - should respond in an individual manner for their own faults".

In the past, some nations, like South Africa in the days of Apartheid, were banned from the Games but there has never been a similar decision for doping. The Russian athletes who will receive the clearance for Pyeongchang will compete under the name "Olympic Athletes of Russia", with a uniform that will bear this name and in case of victory, during the medal ceremony , the Olympic anthem will be played instead of the Russian one.

If in Russia the condemnation from the political world has been unanimous, the US Olympic Committee is celebrating the decision, judging it legitimate and dutiful. The revelation of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the Russian anti-doping laboratory at the time of the 2014 Sochi Games, started the investigation which took over two years. He spoke about a systematic, widespread program implemented by the State to boost the performance of athletes; the perpetrators also reportedly exchanged tubes containing urine samples to bypass controls.

See also

01/02/2018 15:21:00 RUSSIA – SOUTH KOREA
Olympics: 'insufficient’ doping evidence overturns suspensions of 28 Russian athletes

In total, 43 athletes were banned for life from the Olympics after an IOC investigation into a state-run doping scandal at the Sochi Games in 2014. Some 169 Russian athletes have been invited as neutrals to the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Russian Sports Minister wants the IOC “to accept the CAS ruling and allow” Russian athletes “unconditional rights to take part in the upcoming Olympic games."

02/01/2018 10:24:00 KOREA
Kim Jong-un opens to Winter Games in South Korea. Seoul: Let's sit down and talk

The proposal of the Minister of Unification in a press conference. Moon: dissolve frozen relations. It would be the first summit since December 2015.

05/01/2018 09:04:00 KOREA
Pyongyang accepts Seoul's outstretched hand: talks on January 9th

The two Koreas will meet in the demilitarized zone on January 9th. Postponement of US-South Korea military exercises to facilitate meeting. Seoul seeks to restore inter-Korean relations without distancing US ally.

23/11/2017 11:01:00 KOREA
Though 'sponsor of terrorism', North Korea will participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics

The decision of the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic Charter protects all rights and freedoms without discrimination. November 13, "Olympic Truce" adopted by the UN General Assembly and promoted by South Korea.

25/01/2018 09:30:00 KOREA
PyeongChang Olympics, dialogue continues. Pyongyang: 'breakthrough' needed for reunification

Today the North Korean athletes of the hockey team arrive. Criticism and applause for Moon: Olympics of Peace or Pyongyang?

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