IOC Bans Russia from Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russian officials are not allowed to take part in the opening ceremony and the Russian flag will not be raised.

Russian athletes, however, will be able to take part as individuals under a neutral flag if the IOC has determined that they have been clean athletes in the past.

The decision comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that Russia was guilty of systematic doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In a case of state-sponsored doping, officials tampered with urine samples to hide athletes’ drug abuse.  More than 20 Russian athletes, among them some medal winners,  have been disqualified from the final Sochi results.

The whole investigation into the doping claim started when Grigory Rodchenko, director of Russia’s   anti-doping lab in Sochi 2014, defected to the United States. He stated that the country ran an official doping programme and switched samples during the Games.  Doping was especially widespread in sports like biathlon and cross-country skiing.  A report by the World’s anti-doping organization (WADA) stated that between 2012 and 2015 a thousand Russian athletes in 30 sports benefited from the programme.

Although many countries welcomed the IOC’s decision, it was sharply criticized in Russia. Some officials urged the country not to allow any of its athletes to take part in Pyeongchang Olympics. Russia would have ranked first in the Sochi medal table, but lost 13 medals because of the scandal, 4 of them in gold.

Vladimir Putin congratulates Alexandr Zubkov at a ceremony for Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympic
Vladimir Putin congratulates Alexandr Zubkov at a ceremony for Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympics. Zubkov is one of several Russian athletes who lost his medals because of doping. Image: www.kremlin.ru

Words

  • although = while
  • athlete = someone who takes part in a sports competition
  • ban = an order that does not allow a country to take part
  • benefit = something that helps you get better
  • biathlon = event in which athletes ski across fields and then shoot a rifle
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you have not proved it
  • clean athlete = an athlete who has not taken any illegal drugs
  • confirm = to say that something is true by giving proof
  • cross-country skiing = a race in which you ski-across fields
  • decision = order
  • defect = to leave your home country to go somewhere else, mostly because you have something to be afraid of
  • determine = find out the facts
  • disqualify = to take athletes out of the official results
  • doping = the practice of using drugs to improve performance in sport
  • drug abuse = here: taking drugs illegally
  • especially = above all
  • guilty = to do something that is not allowed
  • however = but
  • individual = here: a single person, not part of a country’s team
  • investigation = here: when organizations try to find out the truth about something
  • medal table = list that shows the number of medals that each country has won
  • official = person in a high position in an organisation
  • opening ceremony = the first event at the start of the Olympic Games
  • raise = put up
  • rank = the position in a table
  • sharply = very strongly
  • state-sponsored = the government knew about doping
  • switch = replace, exchange
  • tamper = to change something without permission
  • urge = to strongly suggest that you do something
  • urine samples = yellow liquid waste that comes out of your body; by examining urine experts can see if there are any illegal substances that  an athlete has taken
  • welcome = to be in favour of the decision
  • widespread = common
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