Russian Networks Boycott 2018 Winter Olympics After Doping Ban

IOC President Thomas Bach

The International Olympic Committe this week banned the Russian team from competiting at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics over state-sponsored doping.

Russian TV networks will boycott the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the country's national team over widespread and state-sponsored doping.

State-owned broadcasting corporation VGTRK, which runs the Rossiya network, said it won't broadcast the Olympics if the Russian team is not competing.

"Our stand is firm," a VGTRK representative was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. "We won't air the Pyeongchang Olympics without the Russian team."

A representative for Gazprom Media, the broadcasting wing of the natural gas giant, told the FM radio station Govorit Moskva that without the Russian team, the Olympics will be "a reduced event" and won't attract interest among Russian fans.

The IOC on Monday banned the Russian team from the 2018 Winter Olympics after receiving evidence of what it called the Russian government's “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the IOC's anti-doping system.

Russia’s Olympic Committee has been banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics and ordered to pay $15 million in costs after making what the International Olympic Committee called an “unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport."

For the first time, the IOC also said that the Russian state was directly involved in widespread, institutional doping. The group banned then Russian minister of sport, Vitaly Mutko, and his then deputy minister, Yuri Nagornykh, from any participation in all future Olympic Games. Russia’s athletes who were not involved in the country's massive state-sponsored doping program will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang but not under the Russia flag. They can participate under the neutral Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem, not the Russian, will be played if any athlete wins a gold medal.

The Winter Olympics are just as big as the summer ones in Russia, particularly after the country hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, an event where, the IOC says, Moscow implemented its widespread doping program.

The IOC's ruling, however, will not impact the 2018 World Cup. Soccer governing body FIFA this week confirmed that the event will be held in Russia as planned.