Russia was banned on 05 December 2017 from the 2018 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee over its state-orchestrated doping programme, but clean Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under an Olympic flag. The sanction was the toughest ever levelled by the IOC for drug cheating and came just 65 days ahead of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
An explosive report by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and two subsequent IOC investigations have confirmed that Russian athletes took part in an elaborate drug cheating programme which peaked during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The IOC also banned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko who was sports minister during the Sochi Games for life.
The IOC had the option of hitting Russia with a blanket ban, the so-called nuclear option that was applied to apartheid-era South Africa from 1964 to 1988. The IOC’s decision to choose a more moderate path offers some Russian athletes a route to competing in the Games although that will be by invitation only and dependent on a stringent testing programme.