The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday that Russia has been banned from competing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea, a punishment for the mass doping scandal that dominated the country’s presence in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The decision was made after a report led by the former president of Switzerland found “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia,” the IOC said in a statement released Tuesday. Clean athletes from Russia will still be allowed to compete in the upcoming games under the Olympic flag, but no athletes who competed at Sochi will be allowed to attend Pyeongchang, and no medals won by Russian athletes will be attributed to the country.
The Olympic Committee had previously opted not to ban Russia from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“At the time of Rio, it was mainly about the failure of a Moscow laboratory; now it’s about the manipulation of an Olympic laboratory,” Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said at a press conference following the announcement. “We have applied now the appropriate sanctions,” Bach added.
Russia has consistently denied any state-sanctioned doping programs, and vowed to defend its athletes.
“The main thing is to persistently and energetically take all possible measures to protect our legitimate interests and the legitimate interests of our athletes together with international sports organizations,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week.
Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the anti-doping laboratory who helped expose the doping program in 2015 and 2016, released a statement Tuesday to CNN emphasizing that his motivations were not political and urged Russia to “do the right thing.”
“The time has come for Russia to do the right thing and admit its past transgressions for the benefit of Russian sport. Russia’s continuing intransigence is the greatest yoke around the necks of Russia’s athletes,” the statement reads.
The president of the Russian Olympic Committee apologized Tuesday afternoon, according to Bach.
The games are set to take place Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang.