Russia have been banned from competing as a team at the 2018 Winter Olympics holding in Pyeongchang.
The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach confirmed the news on Tuesday in Lausanne, stating Russian athletes would only be eligible to compete under a neutral flag in South Korea, much like in athletics at the 2016 Rio Games.
Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said punishing clean athletes was “unjust and immoral” and an appeal would be launched.
The ban stems from a 17-month investigation, headed by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid, into widespread doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, which has seen numerous medallists banned.
As a result of the investigation, former Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko – now Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Prime Minister – has been banned from any participation in all future Olympic Games along with his former deputy Yuri Nagornykh.
Mutko is currently the lead organiser for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. In his report to the IOC executive board, former president of Switzerland Samuel Schmid said Mutko, as the then minister for sport, “had the ultimate administrative responsibility for the acts perpetrated at the time”.
Any Russian athletes ruled eligible after going through a thorough clearing process will only be allowed to compete as an ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’ in a uniform bearing that name.
Should any of them win a gold medal, they will stand on top of the podium and hear the Olympic Games anthem.