LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Russia’s doping affair should now be considered closed after the country was banned from the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, with only some invited athletes allowed to take part, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee decided on a string of sanctions for Russia following systematic doping across many sports for years in what Bach said was an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and Sport”.
Among the sanctions are the IOC membership suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president, a lifetime ban for former Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, the participation of only some invited athletes competing under the Olympic flag — and not the Russian — and a $15 million fine.
“These sanctions should draw a line now under this very sad period for the Olympic movement,” Bach said in an interview.
“Now after these sanctions have been implemented and respected and accepted, we should look forward into a cleaner future of sport.”
The IOC’s decision comes 18 months after it did not impose an outright ban on Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics but told international sports federations to decide individually on the participation of Russians in Brazil.
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 in February.
“This systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games,” Bach said.
“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.
“I hope these athletes will take this chance and see the great opportunity with this decision to present a new and clean generation of Russian athletes and in this way to be a bridge for the future of clean sport.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris)