Russia is BANNED from 2018 Winter Olympics over doping - but IOC says clean athletes can compete as neutrals
- Russia is banned from next year's Olympics in South Korea amid doping scandal
- Competitors who can prove they are clean could participate under a neutral flag
- But Putin has said it would be a humiliation to compete without national symbols
- Russia's systemic doping was brought to the world's attention over the last three years by whistleblowers working on the inside
The International Olympic Committee announced the decision on Tuesday after examining evidence of state-sponsored doping that reached its peak during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Some competitors will be invited to participate as an 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' without their flag or anthem.
But the country could completely refuse the offer and completely boycott the games - with president Vladimir Putin previously saying it would be a humiliation to compete without national symbols.
Following the decision Russia's state television station said it will not broadcast the major sporting event next year - and the head of the country's skating union has branded the sanctions offensive and insulting.
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The International Olympic Committee announced the decision on Tuesday after examining evidence of state-sponsored doping that reached its peak during the 2014 Winter Olympics
Some competitors will be invited to participate as an 'Olympic Athlete from Russia' without their flag or anthem
As well as the immediate suspension, the IOC announced a raft of sanctions against senior officials implicated in the scandal, including Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko.
It has also fined the ROC 15 million US dollars (￡11.16million) to reimburse the costs of the various investigations into Russia's cheating and help set up the IOC's new independent testing authority.
The ban is set to cause a major impact on next year's competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea - particularly in disciplines like figure skating, cross-country skiing, speed skating and bobsleigh.?
Russia's systemic doping was brought to the world's attention over the last three years by whistleblowers working on the inside, most notably the ex-director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Dr Grigory Rodchenkov.
Having fled to the United States in November 2015, Rodchenkov is now in witness protection and has been cooperating with investigations led by the IOC.
Russia's systemic doping was brought to the world's attention over the last three years by whistleblowers working on the inside. Pictured: Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko
Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, pictured, is one of the officials who has been sanctioned by the IOC
Before today's decision, his lawyer Jim Walden said he believed 'too much evidence has come out' for the IOC to impose the sanction many thought was most likely earlier this year, a large fine.
Walden added: 'If they were to do that, it would be incredibly unwise and only embolden the cheats.
'What looks most likely now is that Russia will be prevented from competing officially in Pyeongchang.
'So no anthem, no flag. But athletes not implicated will be allowed to prove themselves clean so they can compete as individuals.'
The investigation said the cheating peaked at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The ban is set to cause a major impact on next year's competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea - particularly in figure skating, cross-country skiing, speed skating and bobsleigh
During the games there Russian secret agents are said to have engineered an elaborate system of state-backed doping.
Speaking today, the author of the IOC investigation report told journalists that he had found 'systemic manipulation' by Russia.
Samuel Schmid?told journalists: 'The results are not based only on (whistleblower) Grigoory Rodchenkov's testimony.
'There is scientific evidence, witness statements documents and correspondence.
'The facts are that in Russia there was systemic manipulation of doping and the anti-doping system that also took place at Sochi 2014.'
In the past week a raft of bans have been handed out to the country's 2014 medallists.
Speaking earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured) accused the United States of putting indirect pressure on the IOC to block Russia from the Games in South Korea
In total the country was stripped of 11 of its 33 medals meaning it has lost its position at the top of the Sochi table to Norway - slipping to fourth place.
In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of putting indirect pressure on the IOC to block Russia from the Games in South Korea.
He warned if the IOC left Russia out in the cold, it would cause 'serious harm to the Olympic movement'.
Putin said: 'There are two options. Either forcing Russia to compete under a neutral flag or not letting it go to the Olympics at all. Either one is humiliation for the country.'
Nations have in the past been barred from taking part in the Olympics, notably South Africa during the apartheid years, but none has ever been handed a blanket ban over doping.
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