Russia is banned from participating in the Winter Olympics over the doping scandal, the IOC ruled. But, and this is a strange but (yes, I just ready that out loud, but I’m keeping it anyway), the IOC has ruled that Russian athletes can still compete, but not as Russians. The ball is now in Putin’s court to see if he’ll send ‘his’ athletes without the Russian flag to wave over them (as if people still won’t count the medals that Russian athletes won).
Russians will be allowed to compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics as neutral athletes despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday.
The IOC ruled that some Russians will be invited to compete as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” without their national flag or anthem.
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.”
Putin is expected to speak publicly about the ruling in Moscow on Wednesday.
The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, and banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly 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.
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