Russia has officially been banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea for systematic doping of athletes, a punishment so severe it has basically never been witnessed in Olympic history.

The ruling from the the International Olympic Committee held that Russia is guilty of an “extensive” state-sponsored doping scheme which hasn’t been seen since the infamous excesses of East Germany during the 60s, 70s and 80s.

This doesn’t necessarily affect all Russian athletes, however. If an athlete can prove a history of rigorous drug testing, they will be permitted to compete, but they have to do it wearing a neutral uniforms. No matter how successful they are, the medal tally for Russia will forever read zero.

The alleged efforts from Russia to cover up their frankly staggering doping bureaucracy are insane. At the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia’s sports ministry assembled a team to tamper with over 100 urine samples from the country’s athletes to conceal extensive steroid use. The IOC is still sorting through the tainted results to determine actual results of the Games.

The Russian Olympic Committee was also fined $15 million on Tuesday.

It’s a pretty massive deal in the sports world – not only because of Russia’s general athletic excellence, but also because they, like many nations, use the Olympics as a show of soft power on the global stage. Now we see how they respond.

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