By Joe Sparacio
The International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday afternoon that Russia would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The committee found what they called "unprecedented systematic manipulation" of the anti-doping measures in place to keep the Olympic playing field fair. As a result, Team Russia, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, will be suspended and unable to participate in February's Games.
Reports that Russia had been cheating during the Olympics have been at the forefront of Olympic coverage for some time now. In 2016, Richard McLaren of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a report that investigated the issue and found that the Russian Ministry of Sport erased over 300 failed doping reports between 2011-15.
"By holding Russia accountable for its actions, which date back at least to the (2012) London Games and continued through the Sochi Games, the sports community is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring athletes benefit from an even playing field and drug-free competition," McLaren said, according to Reuters. "This decision further confirms the conclusions of my investigation, and I wish to thank all those who helped me with my work -- some of whom did so at great personal risk."
Netflix also has a documentary on the issue, which claimed that the use of performance-enhancing drugs affected the results of the 2008 and '12 Olympics, as well.
The IOC left the door open for clean Russian athletes to participate in the Olympics. They would have to attend the Games as "Olympic Athletes of Russia" with uniforms not bearing the Russian flag. IOC President Thomas Bach thought that this could possibly help prevent the punishment of those who excelled and stayed clean.
"As a former athlete I am feeling very sorry for all the clean athletes who are suffering from this manipulation ... but because we are allowing clean athletes to participate they can set about building a bridge for the future (rather) than erecting a new wall between Russia and the Olympic movement," Bach said."
The Olympics will begin on Feb. 9.
Joe Sparacio is an associate producer for Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @joetsparacio.