The on-again-off-again saga between Russia and Olympic Games continues.
Talks surrounding how to handle the nation ahead of this year’s winter Olympics are back on the table again. Russia, the country behind the largest doping scandal in history, did not participate in the athletics component in Rio. Now, with another Olympics already nearing, officials are yet again reaching for a solution to effectively deal with the sporting federation that cheated their way through not just the last winter Games and London 2012, but has been doping its athletes for decades prior.
Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, spearhead of relatively recent Russian doping investigations, found that between the years of 2011 and 2015, 1,000 athletes spanning across 30 sports had been caught using performance-enhancing methods.
As reported by The New York Times, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has come up a few different punishments. As far as bans go, that may just extend to halting the Russian national anthem from the Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea. The members of the Russian team could also be stopped from attending the opening ceremonies but not the actual competitions themselves.
Another option on the table: allowing Russians to compete but only as a neutral team. (Read: no Russian flag, no Russian team uniform). If this happens, it’s likely that the nation would boycott this round of the Olympics.
Which course of action the IOC decides on this time around will also factor in a (delayed) report on the McLaren investigation assembled by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid. Head of the committee, Thomas Bach, is receiving pressure from sporting federations and athletes around the world.
Earlier this year, 17 national anti-doping committees came together to demand that Russia be ousted from The Games altogether.
The Games kick off less than 100 days from now. Whether or not we’ll see Russian representation in the competitions is expected be known on Dec. 5 after IOC talks hopefully come to a conclusion. If the committee lets the country in, it would be up to separate sporting bodies to implement a ban or other form of punishments themselves.