Russia’s Legal Options Following the IOC’s Olympic Ban Over Alleged Doping

The International Olympic Committee’s decision on Tuesday to ban Russia’s Olympic team from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea has sent shockwaves across the global sports community. The IOC charges that Russia engaged in a “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system” and deployed an “anti-doping laboratory” at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. These measures, the IOC contends, allowed Russian athletes to cheat and win the medal count.

While the IOC’s punishment is not unprecedented—in recent decades the IOC banned South Africa and Afghanistan from the Olympics due to those country’s discriminatory policies—this marks the first time that the IOC has banned a country for alleged cheating.

How Russian athletes and the Russian government can respond

Russian athletes are not necessarily denied a chance to participate in the 2018 Olympics. They they can petition the IOC to compete. If such petitions succeed, the athletes would need to wear neutral Olympic uniforms. No medals earned would be attributed to Russia. Whether any Russian athlete would make such a petition remains unknown. The Russian government could simply boycott the 2018 Olympics and order that none of its athletes appear under any circumstances. Even if Russia does boycott, its government would likely require that any Russian athlete who seeks to compete gain the blessing of the government. Such an athlete might be understandably

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