Mounting evidence has indicated that the scheme involved senior government officials, including from the sports ministry, with help from secret state agents. The IOC also banned Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko -- who was sports minister during the Sochi Games -- for life. Mutko is currently the head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is hosting. Attention will quickly turn to see if football's world governing body FIFA allows the scandal-tainted ally of President Vladimir Putin to retain his senior World Cup role. In a statement, FIFA said it had "taken note" of the IOC decision but it had "no impact on the preparations" for Russia 2018.
IOC commissioner on Russia Olympic ban: "We have never seen such manipulation and cheating" before. It caused "unprecedented damage to Olympism and sport"https://t.co/xPoauPmYpa pic.twitter.com/aiaZMQOsE1— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 5, 2017
The IOC also suspended the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and its chief Alexander Zhukov. Zhukov said he "apologised" to the IOC on Tuesday for the "anti-doping violations" committed in his country in recent years. The Winter Olympics' South Korean organisers said Wednesday they would prefer if Russians competed under their own flag, but accepted as "second-best" the IOC ruling.
Breaking News: Russia has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games for systematic doping. It’s a punishment without precedent in Olympic history. https://t.co/lbc4eQDC2i— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 5, 2017
Lee Hee-Bum, chief of the Pyeongchang organising committee for February's Winter Olympics, added the decision caught the Games organisers off guard. "We did not know that it (the punishment) would be this much," Lee said, adding there was a "heated debate" among the IOC members before reaching the decision. The move raises the prospect of Moscow boycotting the Games, something that organisers will be desperate to avoid as they battle low ticket sales and concern over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.
Russia has been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics, but Russian athletes who can prove they are clean can compete under the neutral Olympic flag.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 5, 2017
Read more: https://t.co/y9idN8D4wA pic.twitter.com/ziZt3wLBIB
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. "The IOC, at its absolute discretion, will ultimately determine the athletes to be invited from the list," the IOC said in a statement. No Russian athlete with a previous doping violation will be allowed to compete and no official who had a leadership role at Sochi 2014 will be invited to Pyeongchang.
Russia’s Olympic team has been barred from the 2018 Winter Games. Its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony, its anthem will not sound. Any athletes who receive special dispensation will compete as individuals wearing a neutral uniform. https://t.co/EiSmNT25TCDecember 5, 2017
That has fuelled speculation that Moscow would instruct its athletes to boycott the compromise solution decided by the IOC. "An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything," Bach said, insisting that given the window left open for clean athletes to compete, a boycott was unwarranted. But the IOC expulsion sparked immediate outrage in Russia. Deputy speaker of the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy has already called for a boycott. "They are humiliating the whole of Russia through the absence of its flag and anthem," he said in televised remarks. The president of Russia's Bobsleigh Federation, Alexander Zubkov told Russian TV that the IOC decision was a "humiliation." "This is a punch in the stomach", he said.
BREAKING: Russia Olympic Committee banned from sending a team to 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang - individual Russian athletes will be invited to compete under neutral flag. #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 5, 2017
.@marcthiessen on Russia being banned from 2018 Winter Olympics: "What a stunning fall from grace for Russia from hosting the Winter Olympic games in Sochi four years ago to being banned from the Winter Olympic games four years later in South Korea." https://t.co/HwNmBDDzhx pic.twitter.com/XSOlelRMUK— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 6, 2017