IOC Bans Russian Athletes from 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

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Ilya Kovalchuk signs
(L) of USA and (R) of Russia battle for the puck during the IIHF World Championship semi final match between USA and Russia at O2 Arena on May 16, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic.

After waiting to see how the IOC would punish Russia for mass doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it was announced that Russian athletes, including Russian officials, would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Russian National Team Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics

As of November 24th, Russia had nine medals taken away from them in the 2014 Olympics, including four gold medals. Also on the 24th was when they had two golds taken away, both in bobsledding. During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the Russians committed mass and statewide doping. In May earlier this year, the New York Times wrote a piece on how the Russian’s achieved this wide level of mass doping. In the article, the director for Russia’s anti-doping laboratory said: “as many as 100 dirty urine samples were expunged.” 

However, not all Russian athletes will be banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics. The IOC also announced that individual athletes will be invited to Pyeongchang under strict conditions. The IOC will create a list of individual athletes, this list will be determined by a panel of which the chair will be Valerie Fourneyron, chair of the ITA, (Independent Testing Authority). The other members will be appointed by the WADA, one by the DFSU, and one by IOC, Dr. Richard Budgett. The panel will only consider athletes who have qualified according to standards for their sport. Athletes must not have been disqualified or considered ineligible for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. The athletes must also have undergone all pre-Games targeted tests. The athletes must have also undergone any other requirements specified by the panel.

If an athlete is invited and accepts the invitation, the athlete competes under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)”. They will compete in a uniform bearing the name OAR and under the Olympic flag. If the athlete wins any medals the Olympic anthem will play.

Hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics

The IIHF has said the KHL must release non-Russian players to play for his national team. The KHL/Russian Hockey Federation is a part of the IIHF.

As McKenzie says in prior tweets, the KHL also said that if Russian’s could not compete under the Russian flag they would not shut the league down during the Olympic break. Like the NHL, the KHL would not permit any of its players from leaving their respective teams.

There is also the probability that Russian KHL players will not want to play under the neutral flag.

What This Means Going Forward

There is a lot of uncertainty about hockey, even more so now, at the 2018 Olympics. If the KHL does not go, then the KHL would not allow the Americans and Canadians to play for their national teams. For the preliminary games, both the American and Canadian teams have had multiple KHL players on their rosters. If those national teams don’t have access to those players there is, even more, uncertainty about how they will create their rosters. It could be that teams have to use junior players that do not have NHL contracts. They could also use AHL players that do not have an NHL contract.

If the KHL does not play under the neutral flag then the IOC has to figure out who the 12th team will be in the tournament. As far as its known, there is no plan for a whole team not being able to compete in the Games.

This is unprecedented territory for the Olympic Games. For now, it will stay cloudy with uncertainty.

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