The entire Russian team has been banned from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over widespread doping breaches.
The IOC issued the ban on Wednesday morning (AEST), barring the Russian team from next year’s Pyeongchang Games and ordering the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to pay $US15 million ($19.7 million) in costs for its part a systematic doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Russian government officials are also forbidden to attend the 2018 Olympics, the country’s flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not be played.
Russian athletes who can prove they are clean will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag, but any medals would not be attributed to Russia and the Olympic Anthem would be played in any medal ceremony.
The IOC also decided to suspend ROC president Alexander Zhukov as an IOC member.
Mr Zhukov said Russian athletes will appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The ban comes after Russian officials allegedly tampered with more than 100 tainted urine samples from their athletes to conceal steroid use during the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
The athletes found to have been doping were allegedly provided with clean samples passed through a ‘mouse hole’ drilled into the wall of the anti-doping lab.
When the urine was tested the following day there were no signs of doping.
Since then 25 Russian athletes have been sanctioned.
“This is an appropriate and considered response by the IOC, punishing those involved in the blatant cheating … while allowing clean athletes to compete in Pyeongchang,” Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission Ian Chesterman said in a statement on Wednesday.
The decision was handed down by IOC president Thomas Bach after a 14-person executive committee analysed the final report of the Schmid commission.
The commission examined for the past 15 months whether there was an “institutional conspiracy” by Russian officials within the ministry of sport to corrupt the London 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
“The IOC executive board today studied and discussed the finding fo the commission led by the former President of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid, addressing the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia,” The IOC said in a statement.
“This report also addresses in particular the manipulation at the anti-doping laboratory at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 which targeted the Olympic Games directly.
“Over 17 months of extensive work, the Schmid commission gathered evidence and information and held hearing with all the main actors.
“Due process, to which every individual and every organisation is entitled, was followed.”
– with wires