International Olympic Committee (IOC) members Denis Oswald, center right, of Switzerland, speaks with Angela Ruggiero, center left, from the United States, next to Gian-Franco Kasper, left, from Switzerland and Sergey Bubka, right, from the Ukraine, prior to the opening of the first day of the executive board meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the IOC headquarters, in Pully near Lausanne, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (Laurent Gillieron/pool photo via AP)

Updated: IOC suspends Russian Olympic committee

The IOC has suspended the Russian Olympic committee, but will allow athletes to compete as neutrals

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics as neutrals despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday.

The IOC suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, and also banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vilaty Mutko from the Olympics for life. Mutko was the sports minister in 2014 and is the head of the organizing committee of soccer’s next World Cup.

The IOC also imposed a fine of $15 million on the Russian Olympic committee to pay for investigations into the case and toward future anti-doping work.

Still, the IOC ruled that some Russians will be invited to compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” without their national flag or anthem.

Related: Athlete caught doping in 2010 Vancouver Olympic retesting

Russia could refuse the offer and boycott the games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.

“An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at a news conference. “Secondly, I don’t see any reason for a boycott by the Russian athletes because we allow the clean athletes there to participate.”

The sanctions could be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Russian doping program caused “unprecedented damage to Olympism and sports,” said IOC-appointed investigator Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland who was asked to verify an “institutional conspiracy.”

Russia has repeatedly refused to accept that a state-sponsored doping program existed. Such denials helped ensure bans on its track federation and anti-doping agency have not been lifted.

Instead, Russia blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories, as a rogue employee. It wants the scientist extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.

The executive board reached its decision Tuesday after a scheduled 4 1/2-hour debate when it heard from a Russian delegation that included world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva. The delegation was led by Zhukov, who was later suspended.

Two IOC commission leaders — appointed after World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren upheld Rodchenkov’s doping claims in July 2016 — also reported to the Olympic board.

Schmid’s report included a 50-page sworn affidavit from Rodchenkov, who was also a key witness for McLaren and an IOC disciplinary commission.

The chairman of that disciplinary panel, Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, reported about prosecuting Russian athletes implicated in cheating at the 2014 Sochi Games. By Monday, 25 Russians had been disqualified from the Sochi Games and banned from the Olympics for life, and 11 medals were stripped. One Russian was cleared.

Russia no longer leads the Sochi medals table. Even before the IOC reallocates the stripped medals, the United States has the most total medals and Norway has the most golds.

The banned Russian athletes have said they will appeal against the Oswald judgments at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

Any sanctions imposed by the IOC can also be challenged at CAS, and later at Switzerland’s supreme court, which can intervene if legal process has been abused.

The IOC said a panel of officials chaired by former France Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron will decide which athletes to accept at the Olympics in February.

The Canadian Press

Related: Hudson’s Bay Co. unveils kit for Pyeongchang Olympics

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Narcosli Creek Fire 50% contained; Blackwater River Fire gets more firefighters

An incident management team for fires in the North Cariboo to be established by the end of the week

Quesnel air quality index rating at 10+

Heavy smoke in the air a very high risk for residents

UPDATE: Wildfire on Hawk Road, off Nazko Road, now extinguished

Crews had the fire out within a day after it started Aug. 12

Get involved in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Environmental organization develops app to help with the nationwide count

Letter: Let marijuana growth in ALR

How much more unproductive land do we want to accumulate in the ALR?

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Seven people with ties to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug bus

Delta police have secured 94 charges against seven people, including drug and firearm offences

Second measles scare this summer at YVR

An infected traveller flew out of Vancouver’s airport three times

Judge OKs Weinstein suit, cites casting couch’s history

Actress Kadian Noble can sue disgraced Hollywood mogul for violating sex trafficking laws

Employers to raise salaries 2.6% on average next year: report

Firm points to factors such possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates

PM Trudeau and federal ministers to meet on Vancouver Island

Cabinet retreat will be held in Nanaimo from Aug. 21-23

Evacuation alert lifted for 57 properties in Houseman Road area

The Houseman wildfire is now considered being held and is 100 per cent contained

B.C. school’s pledge to ban sex outside of heterosexual marriage now optional

Community convenant of Langley’s Trinity Western University has been centre of rights debate

48 sockeye, harbour seal seized from poachers caught on B.C. river

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for salmon fishing at night

Most Read