Russia banned from 2018 Olympics, deputy PM banned for life

Lausanne, (Switzerland): Russia has been banned from competing at next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and ordered to pay $15 million for its role in a “state-sponsored” doping programme at Sochi Games in Russia in 2014.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday that Russian athletes who can prove they are clean would be allowed to compete under a neutral flag which means they will not take part in the opening ceremony and their country’s anthem will not be played if they win medals. They will also have to wear uniform bearing the name ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’. Russian President Vladimir Putin described the option as a “humiliating” compromise.

IOC also banned current Russian Deputy Prime Minister and then minister of sport, Vitaly Mutko, and his then deputy minister, Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games. Mutko is now  This raises the question whether Mutko can continue in his role as head of the organising committee for the 2018 football World Cup which Russia will host.

Russian athletes cannot take part  in the upcoming Winter Paralympic too as the International Paralympics Committee has already decided to uphold its blanket ban on Russia’s  participation.

Russia’s Olympic Committee said individual athletes have broken rules in the past but there was no state-sponsored doping programme. The so-called ‘state doping’ charge is based on a testimony by former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov.

While the world sees Rodchenkov as a “whistleblower”,  Russia views him as an “instrument” in a geopolitical rivalry between Moscow and the West. The Kremlin describes the narrative of “state doping” as a “slander by a turncoat” (Rodchenkov ).

Rodchenkov is currently in hiding in the United States, reportedly enrolled in a witness protection program.