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Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics

No Russian athlete will compete for the country at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
Image: Banning an entire country from the Games is an unprecedented move

Russia has been banned from taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea due to concerns over doping.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that individual “Russian clean athletes” will still be able to take part as neutral competitors at the event in Pyeongchang from 9-25 February next year.

The president of the Russian skating union has described the decision as “offensive and insulting”.

Banning an entire country from the Games is an unprecedented move for the IOC.

It comes following a 17-month doping investigation which concluded that there was a “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia”.

Russian deputy PM and former sports minister Vitaly Mutko has been banned from all Olympic Games for life. He remains head of the World Cup 2018 organising committee
Image: Russian deputy PM Vitaly Mutko has been banned from all Olympic Games for life

The IOC has also banned Russian deputy prime minister and former sports minister Vitaly Mutko from the Olympic movement for life.

Mr Mutko, who continuously denied state-backed doping was occurring, is currently head of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

His then deputy minister, Yuri Nagornykh, has also been banned for life.

No official from the Russian Ministry of Sport will be allowed accreditation for the Pyeongchang Games, the committee ruled.

The Russian Olympic Committee has also been ordered to pay $15 million (£11.2m) to the IOC for the cost of the investigation and to strengthen the global anti-doping system.

Russian figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova said the decision was offensive and insulting
Image: Russian figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova says the decision is ‘offensive’

Several Russian athletes have been stripped of their medals over the past few years, paving the way for British bobsleigh racer John Jackson to be awarded a retrospective bronze medal last month for his performance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Russia was nearly banned from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found “beyond reasonable doubt” the Russian Ministry of Sport and its Olympic preparation team had allowed state-funded doping.

Just weeks before the Games started in Brazil, the IOC announced Russian athletes would only be eligible to compete if they could prove they had not been doping before the Games.

A total of 111 athletes were barred from competing, while 278 were cleared.

The entire Russian Paralympic team was also banned.

The decision was made at the International Olympic Committee's HQ in Switzerland
Image: The decision was made at the International Olympic Committee’s HQ in Switzerland

IOC president and former Olympic fencer Thomas Bach said: “This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport.

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“The IOC executive board, after following due process, has issued proportional sanctions for this systemic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes.

“This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA.”

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    Image: The FPO’s Heinz-Christian Strache is tipped to be deputy chancellor

    Austria is set to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government.

    The head of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurz, has struck a coalition deal with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

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    Mr Kurz held a joint news conference with Mr Strache and told reporters: “Our aims are quite clear.

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    Mr Kurz, known as ‘wunderwuzzi’ or ‘whizz-kid’, added: “And first and foremost we want to increase security in our country, including by combating illegal immigration.”

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    The two men presented their agreement to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Greens leader who narrowly beat the FPO in a presidential vote in 2015.

    Mr Van der Bellen, who has the right to reject ministers, has said a new government could be sworn in early next week if everything went to plan.

    Following their meeting, Mr Van der Bellen said they had agreed it was in Austria’s “national interest” to remain at the “centre of a strong European Union”.

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