5 December 2017, the IOC Executive Board has decided to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which begin on 9 February 2018. IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC had to find a balance between punishing those who were guilty and allowing innocent athletes who had every right to compete to go to the Winter Games. September 2017, the world’s leading anti-doping agencies have come together to demand Russia be banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next year and to warn the International Olympic Committee it must stop paying lip service to the fight against doping. In november 2017, the IOC’s Oswald Commission sanctioned 25 Russian athletes for using doping at the XXll Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, in 2014. The Russian athletes have been declared ineligible to be accredited in any capacity for all editions of the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

September 2017, in Colorado, USA, 17 anti‑doping agencies, which included the US Anti-Doping Agency and UK Anti‑Doping, warned the IOC that its continuing reluctance to hold Russia to account for what it called “one of the biggest scandals in sports history” at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014 threatens the future of the Olympic movement. In a joint statement the national anti-doping leaders said: “The IOC needs to stop kicking the can down the road and immediately issue meaningful consequences. The failure to expeditiously investigate individual Russian athlete doping poses a clear and present danger for clean athletes worldwide and at the 2018 Winter Games."

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says it has obtained a database that confirms in effect that the McLaren report, which concluded that more than 1,000 Russian athletes across over 30 sports benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2012 and 2015, is accurate. The database is a massive breakthrough in the investigation into Russian doping and casts serious doubt about the country’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February. Apart from the McLaren report WADA’s investigation team obtained crucial evidence from a Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov - former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab. Rodchenkov is in a witness protection program after fleeing to the U.S. and alleging to American media last year how the Sochi doping system worked.

Last December Richard McLaren said that he had found “a cover-up that operated on an unprecedented scale”. He pointed the finger at the Russian ministry of sport, the Russian security services, and the Russian anti-doping agency for creating what he called “an institutional conspiracy across summer, winter and Paralympic sports”. Russia has always denied state-sponsored doping. Russia blames individuals for the doping program, and wants Rodchenkov to be extradited from the United States.

WADA said it was still analysing the database, which contains all the testing data at the Moscow Laboratory between January 2012 and August 2015, but confirmed it would be shared with two International Olympic Committee investigations into Russian doping.

One panel led by IOC board member Denis Oswald was tasked with looking at individual cases of doping that occurred as part of Russia's state-run system. The Oswald Commission is prosecuting around 30 individual Russian athletes who are suspected of doping violations at Sochi. There, tainted samples were swapped with clean urine in the WADA-accredited testing laboratory. Rodchenkov alleged swaps were done through a mouse hole in a lab room with FSB officers who worked out how to break into tamper-proof bottles. Scratches and marks on the glass were crucial evidence in for instance Alexander Legkov's case.

The Oswald Commission re-analyzed all samples from Russian athletes who competed in Sochi to look for evidence of doping or if the sample bottles had been tampered with. Until now, the IOC’s Oswald Commission sanctioned 25 Russian athletes having been found to have committed anti-doping rule violations pursuant to Article 2 of The International Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Rules applicable to the XXll Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, in 2014. The IOC could re-award the medals following potential appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Russian athletes (see the list below) have been declared ineligible to be accredited in any capacity for all editions of the Games of the Olympiad and the Olympic Winter Games subsequent to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

A second IOC panel has been studying whether Russian state agencies, including the sports ministry and FSB security service, were involved in the doping program. That commission is chaired by Samuel Schmid, a former president of Switzerland. Press release IOC (5 December 2017): "The conclusions of the Schmid Report, on both factual and legal aspects, confirmed “the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia, through the Disappearing Positive Methodology and during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, as well as the various levels of administrative, legal and contractual responsibility, resulting from the failure to respect the respective obligations of the various entities involved”.

The details of Rodchenkov's diary will add more evidence to the argument that Russia should be banned as a team. The IOC could choose to let Russian athletes who can prove they've been thoroughly tested to compete as neutral athletes. That, in turn, could compel Russia to have its eligible athletes boycott the Games altogether, rather than compete as neutrals.

With WADA’s Foundation Board concluding that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) upholds the non-compliant status (RUSADA Roadmap to Compliance), the latest revelations further increase the pressure on the IOC. Once again, the IOC is set to decide on sanctions for Russia operating a state-sponsored doping system uncovered in two WADA-commissioned investigations. The IOC’s executive board has decided (5 December 2017) to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

IOC President Bach said: “This systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games,”. “That is why the (IOC) Executive Board suspended the Russian Olympic Committee with immediate effect but it also respected the individual rights of the clean athletes by allowing individual clean athletes to participate in Pyeongchang.” While Russia, which has publicly refused to accept responsibility and has denied any systematic doping supported by the state, may not be happy with the sanctions, Bach sounded confident there would be no boycotting of the Olympics. “An Olympic boycott has never served anything. Secondly, there is no reason for a boycott because the clean Russian athletes will have the opportunity to participate in Pyeongchang,” Bach said.


Russian Sochi Olympians banned and suspended from the Olympics for life

Gold medallists

Alexander Legkov, 50km cross country

Aleksei Negodailo, four-man bobsleigh

Dmitry Trunenkov, four-man bobsleigh

Aleksandr Zubkov, two-man and four-man bobsleigh

Aleksandr Tretiakov, skeleton

Silver medallists

Olga Fatkulina, 500m speed skating

Yana Romanova, biathlon relay

Olga Zaytseva, biathlon relay

Olga Vilukhina, biathlon relay and 7.5km biathlon

Maksim Vylegzhanin, 50km cross country, Men's 4x10km cross country,  Men's team sprint classic cross country

Bronze medallist

Elena Nikitina, women's skeleton


Alexander Rumyantsev, speed skater

Evgeniy Belov, cross country

Yuliia Ivanova, cross country

Alexey Petukhov, cross country

Evgeniya Shapovalova, cross country

Yulia Tchekaleva, cross country
Anastasia Dotsenko, cross country

Sergei Chudinov, skeleton

Maria Orlova, skeleton

Olga Potylitsyna, skeleton

Olga Stulneva, bobsleigh

Ilvir Khuzin, four-man bobsleigh

Aleksei Pushkarev, four-man bobsleigh

Alexander Kas’yanov, two-man bobsleigh , four-man bobsleigh

IOC sanctions six Russian athletes (ice hockey-players) and closes one case as part of Oswald Commission findings (IOC, 12 December 2017)


[number of readers: 786]

Previous Peace Palace Library blog on Sports and Russian Doping: Fairness vs. the Human Right to Sport by D. Zwaagstra (29 July 2016)

Previous Peace Palace Library blog on Osaka Rule and Doping at Olympics by R. Ridderhof (10 August 2016)

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