On Tuesday 5 December 2018, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the official announcement that Russia was to be banned from the Winter Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang, accepting WADA’s recommendation owing to the fact that Russia has not complied with the instructions of the international organizations in reference to the doping scandal that was revealed initially in 2014 and substantiated in 2016.
The announcement sent ripples to the sporting world and bookmakers have begun reconsidering the odds they offer for the Winter Olympics. The best Asian bookmakers did not change much, as their analyses showed that the Russians were not the favourites in many of the sports anyway. This is evident in platforms were the odds from various bookmakers can be gathered and compared side by side.
For the uninitiated, the chronicle of the case begins in December 2014 when allegations were published by German broadcaster ARD about a state organized doping program supplying Russian athletes with performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals. The allegations were investigated and the result was the McLaren Independent Report (Richard McLaren – WADA) were evidence was presented involving more than 1.000 Russian athletes that benefited from this program in more than 30 sports. The evidence included scientific findings, testimonies from athletes, correspondence and the original whistleblowing testimony of Russia’s former anti-doping chief Grigory Rodchenkov who described the scandal as a “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules and system.”
Until this scandal has been completely investigated and fully resolved, Russian athletes have and will continue to be banned from international events as athletes participating under their own flag. However, a provision was made to protect those athletes that can prove their innocence.
The President of IOC, Thomas Bach, has clarified that Russian athletes that fall under this category may still participate in the Winter Olympics under the Olympic Flag and a uniform bearing the name “Olympic athlete from Russia”. To become eligible for the exclusion from banning, Russian athletes will not only have to provide evidence that they were not involved in the program during the period between 2011 and 2015, but also pass a specially created IOC anti-doping panel.
Aleksander Zhukov, head of the suspended Russian Olympic Committee, said that this ban contained “positive and negative sides”. It is positive, that Russian athletes could still participate in the Olympic Winter Games 2018 and that it was important that the word “Russia” would still be on their uniforms. He also pointed out, that the suspension would probably only last until the final day of the Games and that Russian athletes may participate in the closing ceremony under their own flag.
The initial reaction of the Russian officials was to consider declaring a boycott of the Games. President Putin himself commented that it would be a humiliation for the Russian athletes to compete without their national symbols. However, the final decision was that Russia would not block its athletes from completing, allowing the choice to each athlete individually. As per his statement:
“Without any doubt we will not declare any kind of blockade. We will not block our Olympians from taking part, if any of them wish to take part as individuals. They have been preparing for these competitions for their whole careers, and for them it’s very important.”
IOC’s decision may be important but it bears little consequence to our betting plans and we suggest that you prepare and choose the right Bookmaker via an Agent to open your betting account. The favourites are still the same as before and there’s plenty of profit to be made!