MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is meeting on Tuesday in the Swiss city of Lausanne to decide whether Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean county Pyeongchang.
The verdict of the IOC Executive Board is highly likely to be unfavorable for Russia, many Russian officials believe. The punishment could be either a full or a partial removal of the Russian national team from the Olympics or the admission of "clean" athletes to the Games, but under a neutral flag. It is also possible that the IOC, as in the case of the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, delegates the right of admission of Russians to the Games to international sports federations.
In 2016, the head of WADA's independent commission Richard McLaren published a report about Russian anti-doping violations. Later the International Olympic Committee established two commissions to investigate these accusations. One of the commissions was led by Denis Oswald, who had to re-verify doping probes of Russian athletes from the 2014 Olympic Games. The other was led by Samuel Schmid and focused on the alleged involvement of the Russian Sports Ministry in doping.
After those investigations, the Russian national team was stripped of 11 medals from the 2014 Olympic Games, removing the team from first place in the medal count.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the IOC was under strong pressure and had two options, to either allow Russia to participate in competitions under a neutral flag or not to admit the country to the Olympics. Both of these are aimed at humiliating Russia, Putin stressed.
Before the announcement of the decision, IOC President Thomas Bach urged critics not to exert pressure on the executive committee.
"Some may try to build pressure. They will be wrong. Now it is about what happened at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, now it is about us. Now it is about the integrity of the Olympic Games. Now it is about what happened at the Olympic Games in a laboratory of the Olympic Games. What happened with Olympic athletes. What happened with Olympic medalists. This is what we have to bear in mind when I say that we will make a fair decision," the IOC head said.
Russia is represented at the meeting by Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov, Russian Independent Anti-Doping Commission chief Vitaly Smirnov and two-time world champion figure skater Yevgenia Medvedeva.