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IOC ban Russia from sending team to 2018 Winter Olympics over doping violations

By Matt Slater

Russia has been banned from sending a team to February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The International Olympic Committee announced the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) on Tuesday, meaning only invited Russian athletes will be allowed to compete and they will be considered neutral competitors.

The decision was reached after the IOC's 14-strong executive board received a recommendation from a disciplinary commission set up to investigate claims Russia conducted a state-sponsored doping programme that culminated at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

As well as the immediate suspension of the ROC, the IOC announced a raft of sanctions against senior officials implicated in the scandal, including Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko.

It has also fined the ROC 15 million US dollars (£11.16million) to reimburse the costs of the various investigations into Russia's cheating and help set up the IOC's new independent testing authority.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: "This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC EB (executive board), after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.

"This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA."

Bach, a former Olympic fencer, added: "As an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs (national Olympic committees) who are suffering from this manipulation.

"Working with the IOC athletes' commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium."

Irish Independent

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