Russian athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea will not be able to represent their country.
On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Russian Olympic Committee due to the country’s state-supported use of performance-enhancing drugs, a scandal that was uncovered by a report carried out by Richard McLaren of the World Anti-Doping Agency last year.
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) December 5, 2017
The investigation uncovered that Russian athletes had been supplied with performance-enhancing drugs for years, including at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, in what Rebecca R. Ruiz of the New York Times branded as “one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history.”
McLaren’s findings showed that over 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 Olympic sports were involved in the doping scandal, which was known by the country’s officials, including former Russian deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh and former anti-doping lab director Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov.
Rodchenkov explained to McLaren (via Ruiz), how they were able to pull off such a scheme for such a long time:
“He described an operation out of a spy thriller in which he, with the guidance of sports officials and the help of members of the country’s intelligence service, broke into supposedly tamper-proof bottles every night to replace urine-tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected months earlier.”
High-ranking Russian officials, like president Vladimir Putin, have continued to dodge the accusations.
The IOC could have banned Russian athletes from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but decided to ban over 100 athletes from competing.
This time around in South Korea, though, there will be no red, white and blue of Russia seen from competitors. Russian athletes who are competing in the Games will be monitored closely, competing under the title of “Olympic Athlete from Russia,” which will be seen on scoreboards and standings as “OAR.”
For the athletes that win gold or whenever the Russian anthem is supposed to be played, the Olympic anthem will be played in its place.