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IOC: Russians can compete in the Olympic Games, but without a flag

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Russian athletes will be able to climb to the medal podium at the Winter Olympics, but not with their anthem or their nation's flag rising above them.

The International Olympic Committee banned Russia and its sporting leaders from the upcoming games in South Korea after its principal investigator concluded that members of the Russian government invented a doping scheme at the Sochi Games 2014 that "caused damage without precedents to Olympism and sports ".

Not welcome in Pyeongchang next year sign of the Russian Olympic Committee or any member of its sports ministry, who was responsible for what the researchers concluded was a top-down "manipulation and deception" scheme to ensure that Russians can get high at the Olympics on their own turf and not get caught.

The punishment of the IOC left room for many Russians to compete under the name of "Russian Olympic athlete" or OAR. They would have to pass drug tests to prove they were clean and they did not benefit from the Sochi plan either.

If they win, the Olympic flag would rise and the Olympic anthem would be played to honor their victories. That is, if Russian President Vladimir Putin allows them to go to the games from 9 to 25 February. He had previously said that it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without its national symbols.

"An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything," said IOC President Thomas Bach at a press conference. "Second, I see no reason for a boycott of Russian athletes because we allow clean athletes to participate."

Alexander Zhukov, the chairman of the Russian Olympic Committee who was also suspended from his IOC membership, told TV reporters in Lausanne that a key was to preserve the name "Russia" in the team's name.

"They will be called Russian athletes and not some kind of neutrals … that's very important," Zhukov said.

If it was a victory to have the word "Russia" in the name of the team and invite some Russian athletes to compete, it came at a cost.

The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic Committee until at least the beginning of the closing ceremony in South Korea.

In an embarrassing situation for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup, the IOC also banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko from the Olympic Games for life.

Mutko heads the organizing committee for the next World Cup. As sports minister in 2014, he was deeply involved in the Sochi doping plan by two IOC committees and an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"The IOC board of directors has made clear its position of responsibility of Mr. Mutko," said Bach, who declined to comment on whether it was appropriate for FIFA's governing body to continue working with an official who is also chairman of FIFA. the Russian football federation. .

At the Kremlin State Palace on December 1, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told a joint press conference with Mutko that the IOC decision would not affect the World Cup.

That message was repeated on Tuesday by FIFA in a statement that its ethics and disciplinary committees could still open cases against Mutko and the Russian soccer players involved in the cover-up of doping.

The IOC also imposed a $ 15 million fine on the Russian Olympic Committee to pay its two investigations into the case and into future anti-doping work.

The sanctions could be challenged before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Any Russian athlete wishing to win invitations to Pyeongchang will have to go through a stricter test regime than usual and not have a doping violation on his record.

The invitations will be decided by an IOC panel chaired by former French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron.

The IOC will also bar Russian officials who were team leaders in Sochi, and coaches or medial personnel who have been linked to doped athletes.

The CEO of the Sochi Olympic Games, Dmitry Chernyshenko, also took his place in an Olympic panel that oversees the Beijing Olympic Games 2022 withdrawn by the IOC.

Russia has repeatedly refused to accept the existence of a state-sponsored doping program. These refusals helped to ensure that the bans on their federation of tracks and the anti-doping agency have not been lifted.

Instead, Russia blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow and Sochi testing labs, as a dishonest employee. He wants the scientist to be extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.

The executive board made its decision on Tuesday after a scheduled 4½ hour debate when it heard from a Russian delegation that included world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva. The delegation was headed by Zhukov, who was later suspended.

Two IOC leaders appointed after the WADA investigator Richard McLaren confirmed Rodchenkov's doping allegations in July 2016 also informed the Olympic board.

The report appointed by the IOC investigator Samuel Schmid, a former Swiss president who was asked to verify an "institutional conspiracy", included a 50-page affidavit of Rodchenkov, who was also a key witness for McLaren and a IOC disciplinary commission.

The president of that disciplinary panel, the Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, reported on the prosecution of the Russian athletes involved in cheating in Sochi. By Monday, 25 Russians had been disqualified from the Sochi Games and were banned from participating in the Olympic Games for life, and 11 medals were stripped. A Russian was cleared.

Russia no longer leads the Sochi table of medals. Even before the IOC reassigns the stripped medals, the United States has the highest number of medals and Norway has the most gold.

Russian banned athletes have said they will appeal Oswald's judgments to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Any sanctions imposed by the IOC can also be challenged in CAS, and later in the supreme court of Switzerland, which can intervene if the legal process has been abused.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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