Russia’s Olympic Committee has been suspended for violating the Olympic charter with “immediate effect and until further notice” after it incorporated sports bodies from four territories annexed from Ukraine.
The suspension was announced by the International Olympic Committee as a response to Russia’s decision to recognise Olympic councils from the occupied regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia last week.
The IOC spokesperson, Mark Adams, said the move had violated the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, and confirmed that Russia would no longer be eligible for any funding from the IOC as a consequence.
“The unilateral decision taken by the Russian Olympic Committee on 5 October 2023 … constitutes a breach of the Olympic Charter,” he said. “Because it violates the territorial integrity of the NOC of Ukraine. The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect until further notice.”
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However Adams said the suspension had not yet affected the possibility of neutral Russian athletes competing at next year’s Paris Olympics, which would be decided at a later date.
“There isn’t a timeline,” said Adams. “We’ve always said that we would take the decision when the time’s right. But I think it will become clearer when we get close to the Games.”
This is not the first time that the ROC has faced punishment from the IOC. In 2017 it was banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and ordered to pay $15m in costs for a range of doping offences which the IOC president, Thomas Bach, called an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport”.
However, some of Russia’s athletes were able to compete in the 2018 Games after proving to the IOC’s satisfaction that they were not involved in a state-sponsored doping programme that corrupted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Russian athletes were also banned from competing under their own flag after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. In March this year, the IOC opened the door for them to compete as neutral athletes in Paris after telling sports federations they should be allowed to compete as neutrals.
Ukraine has threatened to boycott next year’s Games in Paris if a full ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes is not upheld.