Russia will not have a team at next year’s Winter Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the unprecedented step of banning one of sport’s powerhouses.
The IOC delivered the bombshell on Tuesday, just 66 days before the Games are due to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
It followed an afternoon of deliberation over the findings of an investigation into claims of state-sponsored doping led by the former president of Switzerland, Samuel Schmid.
Russia’s Olympic Committee has also been ordered to pay $15m in costs by the IOC and Vitaly Mutko, the country’s former sports minister who is now deputy prime minister and in charge of organising next summer’s football World Cup, banned from the Olympic scene for life.
Russian athletes could yet compete in Pyeongchang in February as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” if they can prove that they are drug-free. It has been suggested that they could boycott the Games in protest.
“This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
Mutko and other Russian officials have denied allegations of a systematic attempt to dope the country’s athletes at the last Winter Olympics four years ago in and leading up the Sochi Games.