Russia Could Be Completely Banned From the Winter Olympics

November 29, 2017, 5:03 PM UTC

The 2018 Winter Olympics could be down a major competitor, as it’s looking increasingly possible that the International Olympic Committee will bar Russia from the Pyeongchang games.

The extraordinary ruling, on which Olympic officials will announce a formal decision on Dec. 5, comes as a Russian chemist’s diaries detailing the level of cheating at the 2014 Winter Olympics have been obtained by the IOC and reported on by the New York Times.

Grigory Rodchenkov, who formerly ran Russia’s antidoping labs but later defected to the U.S., reportedly kept detailed notes about Russia’s involvement in a massive coverup. In it’s story on the diary, the Times says it has seen the notes itself.

Should the IOC decide not to completely bar Russia from the games, it would likely impose other punishments, such as banning Russian symbols. In that case, athletes from the country would still be allowed to participate, but the country’s flag would not fly, its national anthem would not play, and Russian athletes would wear neutral uniforms. That could lead to Russia boycotting the games.

Russia has disputed prior reports that it was involved in any cheating at the 2014 Olympics, where athletes from that country were forced to return 11 medals.

It’s the latest low for the Pyeongchang games. In September, word spread that domestic sales of tickets were incredibly soft. Earlier this month, things hadn’t improved. With less than 100 days before the Games begin, barely a third of the tickets have been sold.