Russia banned from Pyeongchang 2018
Published: 06 December 2017
Russia gets the big Olympic cold shoulder
The Russian flag will not be seen inside any Olympic stadiums in 2018
Image © 2017 AAP / Jean-Christophe Bott, KeystoneRussian officials have expressed shock and dismay over the International Olympic Committee decision to ban the country from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
The IOC said on Tuesday that Russia had been banned from the Olympics after evidence emerged of an "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping system.
The door was left open, however, for Russians to compete as an "Olympic Athlete of Russia" as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.
Most of the indignation in Russia came from the presidents of winter sports federations, who slammed a decision they said was unjustified and demeaning.
"The IOC decision is offensive and insulting. It is completely unjustified," Alexei Kravtsov, president of the Russian Skating Union, said
His counterpart at the Russian curling federation, lawmaker Dmitry Svishchev, accused the IOC of having succumbed to external pressure when making its decision.
"I consider that the IOC's decision is unprofessional," Svishchev said. "I am profoundly convinced that it was made under pressure. Someone needed Russia not to participate in the Games."
Bobsleigh federation president Alexander Zubkov, who was stripped of his two gold medals from the 2014 Sochi Games and banned for life from the Olympics last month, said he was shocked by the IOC decision.
"I am simply shocked by what is happening and what happened and by (IOC President) Thomas Bach's decision regarding our country and our athletes."
The bans came as a result of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russians and sample tampering by laboratory and security officials at the Sochi Olympics.
The IOC stripped 11 Russian Sochi medallists of their honours, while 25 athletes were banned for life from the Games.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chef de mission Ian Chesterman said Russia’s punishment was "appropriate" given widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Games.
"This is an appropriate and considered response by the IOC, punishing those involved in the blatant cheating, the systematic manipulation that took place during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games while allowing clean athletes to compete in Pyeongchang," Chesterman said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The culprits, the corrupt, have been dealt with.
Individual Russian athletes competing in February as neutrals will have proven they have no previous anti-doping violations and have undergone targeted testing, the IOC said.
They will be labelled "Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)" and will compete in a uniform bearing that name.
"It is fair that clean athletes can compete in the 2018 Games, but the IOC has made it very clear that the scrutiny of the athletes from Russia will be high," Chesterman said.
"This is exactly as it should be. This will provide our athletes with confidence that they have an even playing field in Pyeongchang, and that is fundamentally important."
Retired aerial skier Jacqui Cooper, a five-time Olympian who has sat on the World Anti-Doping Authorities' athletes committee, was hopeful no clean Russia athletes would be excluded from competition.
"For Australians to win medals, I would think it would be not right and almost un-Olympic not to have the entire field there if the athletes are clean," Cooper told AAP.
"I actually feel sorry for the Russian athletes who are clean. If they can't go because they have to fund themselves - and I don't know how they would fund themselves - then that's unfair too."
Russia, whose flag and anthem will not be present in Pyeongchang, said it would appeal the IOC imposed ban.