The Russian Olympic Committee was suspended for the 2018 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday due to the countryâ€™s system of supporting athletes who were using performance-enhancing drugs.
The harsh penalty was delivered to set a precedent that actions like those of the Russians are unacceptable. The IOC also fined the Russian committee $15 million to pay for the doping investigation.
The IOC executive board ruled that Russian athletes who are proven to be clean by passing strict standards will be allowed to compete in the Games at PyeongChang, South Korea. But they will have to compete under the title of â€śOlympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).â€ť
â€śThey will compete with a uniform bearing this name (OAR) and under the Olympic Flag,â€ť the IOC said in its ruling. â€śThe Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.â€ť
IOC president Thomas Bach, who won two gold medals in fencing for West Germany during the 1970s, was disturbed with what was uncovered.
â€śThis was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. The IOC EB, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes,â€ť Bach said in a statement.
â€śThis should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA.
â€śAs an athlete myself, I feel very sorry for all the clean athletes from all NOCs who are suffering from this manipulation. Working with the IOC Athletesâ€™ Commission, we will now look for opportunities to make up for the moments they have missed on the finish line or on the podium.â€ť
The U.S. Olympic Committee supported the IOCâ€™s decision.
â€śThe IOC took a strong and principled decision,â€ť the USOC said in a statement. â€śThere were no perfect options, but this decision will clearly make it less likely that this ever happens again.â€ť
Canadian womenâ€™s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser was among the Olympians to express an opinion.
â€śIn light of the decision by the IOC to allow Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag, I feel compelled as a member of the IOCAC to make it clear to clean athletes of the world and fans of Olympic sport, that there are no winners in todayâ€™s decision,â€ť Wickenheiser said in a statement she released on Twitter.
â€śAs a six-time Olympian, I take the sanctity of clean sport and Olympic ideals seriously. I believe in the power of the Olympic Games in its purest form.â€ť