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The International Olympic Committee has suspended the Russian Olympic Committee "with immediate effect", effectively banning the country from the upcoming Winter Olympics over Russia's system of state-supported cheating by its athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs.

The qualifying athletes will compete under the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" and compete under the Olympic flag.

The decision was announced after top International Olympic Committee officials had met privately with Alexander Zhukov, the president of Russia's Olympic Committee; Vitaly Smirnov, Russia's former sports minister who was previous year appointed by Putin to lead a national anti-doping commission to redeem Russia's standing in global sports; and Evgenia Medvedeva, a two-time world skating champion. It is likely to face a legal appeal from Russia's Olympic Committee.

The punishment also prevents Russian officials from participating in official Olympic events, including Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko and Deputy Minister of Sport Yuri Nagornykh, who are permanently banned from all future events.

Meanwhile, Russian coaches and athletes were vehemently condemning the decision and discussing how it could be appealed.

Mutko receives a lifetime Olympic ban for his involvement in Russian doping, raising questions as to whether he can continue in his role as head of the organising committee for next year's World Cup.

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Russian athletes have already competed under the neutral flag in the United team at the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville and the summer games in Barcelona.

"This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport", IOC President Thomas Bach said.

The IOC may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials.

Russian Federation basks in a golden hue after topping the medals table at the Sochi Winter Games in the Black Sea resort, with 13 titles and 33 medals in total. The two also made a statement applauding the IOC's decision. According to Rodchenkov, he replaced tainted urine samples with clean ones for Russian athletes during the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The report by IOC-appointed investigator Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland who was asked to verify an "institutional conspiracy", included a 50-page sworn affidavit from Rodchenkov, who was also a key witness for McLaren and an International Olympic Committee disciplinary commission.

However in the past month there has been a sea-change in the tone and language of the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.


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