As we rapidly approach the 2018 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee just made a major announcement. Russia has officially been banned from competing at Pyeongchang, South Korea in February 2018.
The decision for the ban was made on Tuesday, following an investigation regarding state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Games. It was reported that Russia's sports ministry team tampered with over 100 urine samples in order to hide the fact that athletes had been using steroids throughout the competition.
Now, after several months of extreme investigation, Russia has been officially barred. IOC president Thomas Bach had been reading through findings and recommendations detailed by Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland.
Although Russia had denied the accusations, the Schmid investigation reportedly found evidence of "the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system."
The IOC announced on Tuesday that athletes will not be able to represent Russia and that government officials are forbidden to attend.
The IOC said, "This should draw a line under this damaging episode."
President Thomas Bach said, "This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system."
The ban means that officials will be unable to attend the Games, Russia's flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony, and their anthem will not be played. However, the IOC has created a structure for athletes who compete honestly.
Russian athletes who have had a history of accurate drug testing will be able to petition to compete. However, they will have to wear neutral uniforms at the Games.
Americans have had mixed reactions over the recent announcement. Many are cheering because of the integrity of the situation and the chances of bringing in gold, but others are disappointed that the competition will not be as challenging.
This decision is expected to dramatically affect sports in which Russia dominated. However, the fact that the IOC is valuing integrity over the competition is highly admirable.
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