Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Russia Frozen out of 2018 Winter Olympics

Doping allegations have plagued Russian athletes for years. Prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the World Anti-Doping Agency concluded that Russia's Anti-Doping Agency, its Ministry of Sport, and Federal Security Service operated a "state-directed" doping system and Russian athletes were banned from the competition. Part of the evidence used for that ruling came from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

More allegations appear to have doomed Russia's participation in the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The International Olympic Committee has banned Russian athletes from participating in the Games, and also forbid government officials from attending.

Cold Shoulder

The IOC's punishment was based on a report from Samuel Schmid, Chair of the IOC Disciplinary Commission, which allegedly confirmed "the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia." "The facts are that in Russia there was systemic manipulation of doping and the anti-doping system," Schmid said, "that also took place at Sochi 2014 (Winter Olympics)."

In Sochi, Russia's sports ministry orchestrated an elaborate overnight operation that tampered with over 100 urine samples in an effort to conceal evidence of steroid use. Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia's anti-doping lab, was using a storage room next to the lab to swab out urine from top athletes. Dozens of Russian athletes were disqualified from the Sochi Games, and Olympic officials indicate that results from those contests will be recalculated and medals re-awarded in Pyeongchang.

Warming Relations?

Following the Rio Summer Olympics ban, the IOC reversed the burden of proof, and allowed Russian athletes to compete at the Games if they could prove they had not been doping. This time around, Olympic may allow Russian athletes with "histories of rigorous drug testing" to petition for permission to compete in the Games, albeit in neutral uniforms and not under the Russian flag, according to the New York Times. The ban also includes the Russian national anthem from the opening ceremonies and medal stands.

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