The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, has banned Russia from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Some Russian athletes, however, can participate in the games as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia”, or OAR.
The IOC found “systemic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system in Russia." Doping refers to the illegal use of a drug (such as a steroid) to improve an athlete’s performance.
Russian officials have denied any state involvement in the doping of athletes.
This is the first time in Olympic history that the IOC has suspended a country for doping.
The IOC had banned countries from the Olympics before, including Germany, South Africa, India, and Kuwait. Previous suspensions were for acts of war, state-sponsored discrimination, or failure to meet Olympic charter requirements.
The IOC has also stripped eleven medals, out of 33, won by Russian athletes in the Sochi Olympics.
Russian athletes can still compete in the upcoming February Olympics – if they meet certain conditions.
A panel must approve the athlete’s invitation to the Olympics. The athlete must have a clean record and meet strict testing requirements.
Once approved for participation, the athletes will compete in a uniform that carries the OAR name. The Olympic anthem, instead of the Russian national anthem, will be played during ceremonies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously called such conditions "a humiliation" to Russia. He has suggested that his country’s athletes would not agree to compete in Pyeongchang under such circumstances.
However, at the International Association of Athletics Federations world championships in London in August, 19 Russian track-and-field athletes did compete under similar circumstances.
On December 4, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was not considering a boycott of the Winter Olympics. Whether the Russian government’s position will change following today’s announcement remains to be seen.
I’m John Russell.