Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports journalist Rachel Axon breaks down the IOC decision to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – When doomsday came for Russia to operate a doping system, two of the complainants laid the groundwork for the investigations that led to sanctions unprecedented reached the same conclusion.

The decision of the International Olympic Committee to effectively ban Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympic Games and allow individual athletes to compete under the Olympic flag was fair, said Vitaly Stepanov and Grigory Rodchenkov.

"I would like to thank the IOC and its commission in reality, in my opinion, a fair decision," Stepanov told USA TODAY Sports. "I would also like to thank Grigory Rodchenkov and other complainants for exposing the truth and trying to expose the corrupt system in Russia.

" Even as of (Monday) many people felt that the IOC would not be able to do this. I understand that it is a commitment, but … like the people who run the world Olympic movement, they have to look for commitments all the time. "

Rodchenkov, Stepanov and Yuliya Stepanova, an elite runner and wife of Stepanov, exhibited a system in Russia that doubled athletes and worked to cover up positive evidence.

His whole life has been irreversibly altered by his decision to stand, with the three fleeing to the United States.

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In spite of that, they did not seek the demise of Russia but the reform of Russia. the decision of the IOC can put to the country on that road.

"I would say you think it was fair and proper," said Jim Walden, Rodchenkov's lawyer. "He does not want Russia badly, he does not wish Russian athletes clean." What he wants is for the world to come together and stop paying for the need for anti-doping reform. He is pleased that the IOC has taken this bold step.

"He knows that the Russians are not alone and that there are other systems sponsored by the state, their only hope is that this is the first step in the long journey to claim clean sports forever."

Unquestionably, the Stepanovs and Rodchenkov took some of the most important steps.

Stepanov, who worked for the Russian anti-doping agency, and Stepanova was presented in December 2014 in a report by the German broadcaster ARD that detailed doping in Russian athletics.

this March 4, 2011, photo file, Yuliya Stepanova poses in an undisclosed location. (Photo: Aleksander Chernykh, AP)

They provided many of the tests that formed the basis of the first investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which at the end of 2015 revealed widespread doping in Russian athletics. [19659008] As a result, the International Association of Athletics Federations suspended the Russian Athletics Federation, which caused the team to miss the Olympic Games in Rio. That sanction remains in effect more than two years later.

Six months after the first investigation was launched, Rodchenkov stepped forward to detail a doping and urine exchange system during the Sochi Olympics and a larger system that worked for four years to dope Russian athletes and concealed your positive tests.

A report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren corroborated Rodchenkov's account and showed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in the system.

While applauding the decision of the IOC, Stepanov and Rodchenkov were cautious about the way forward.

The lack of decision of the IOC was a requirement for Russia to publicly accept McLaren's findings. The AMA, the IAAF and the International Paralympic Committee have required such admission for Russia to be reinstated, but Russian officials have continued to deny the existence of a doping system.

"As long as Russia refuses to accept responsibility, no one in the sports world will believe that the next trap is not planned," Walden said.

Russia had previously threatened to boycott the Games if they were forced to compete as neutral athletes. According to Russian media reports, President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the issue of Russian participation on Wednesday.

A boycott would indicate that Russia continues to deny the existence of the system, Stepanov said.

"Obviously, if that is the message you want to send, to continue sending, there is no place for them in the Olympic movement," he said.

But acceptance of the sanctions and allowing the athletes to compete would be a tacit acceptance of the findings of the investigations into Russian doping, Stepanov said.

It could also allow Russia to retreat into the fold. The IOC "may partially or fully suspend the suspension of the ROC from the beginning of the closing ceremony" provided that the ROC, athletes and officials respect and implement the IOC sanctions.

That could mean a Russian flag at the closing ceremony. For his part, Stepanov hopes that, if that happens, it will be another step in the anti-doping fixation process in Russia.

"In any process, to go forward, the first step is to admit guilt, so I guess somehow the IOC is offering this to Russia, and I do not know how they are going to react," Stepanov said. "But also, when reinstating the Russian Olympic Committee on the last day or during the closing ceremony, I think that would really show what the Olympic movement is about, about uniting people, uniting countries, about forgiveness."

" If that happens, I hope everyone realizes that there are still many things that must be done in Russia to change things, change the culture of doping. Many Russian sports officers must be fired. Many coaches must be fired. Many athletes must begin to admit guilt. Therefore, we still have a few years left until the country changes and it can be trusted that it is anti-doping. "

Contribution: Nancy Armor

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