IOC weighs Russian Olympic ban, risks provoking Putin

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Russia could be banned from competing at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics, a prospect that President Vladimir Putin has already warned would be humiliating for his country.

The decision will come on Tuesday when the International Olympic Committee’s executive board meets in Lausanne, less than nine weeks before the 2018 Games open on Feb. 9 in South Korea.

The 14-member board, which includes two Americans, has received a so-far confidential report from an IOC-appointed panel. That panel was asked to assess if Russian state agencies did organize the doping program used at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

IOC President Thomas Bach, a German lawyer long seen as an ally of Russia, is scheduled to announce the decision at 7:30 p.m. (1830 GMT).

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It might not be the last word, however. Russia can challenge any IOC sanction by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Here is a look at the case, and the possible results:

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PUNISHMENT OPTIONS

— A total ban on Russia competing in Pyeongchang.

— Some Russian athletes compete, if judged to be clean under long-term doping controls operating to international standards. They would be classed as neutral athletes competing under the Olympic flag, and would be denied hearing the Russian anthem if they win Olympic gold. Those rules were imposed on Russian athletes at the track and field world championships in August.

Putin has said either of those outcomes would be humiliating, and could provoke a Russian boycott.

— The IOC board could ask the seven governing bodies for Winter Olympic sports to decide on individual athlete eligibility. That compromise applied to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

— Impose a fine on the Russian Olympic committee. Tens of millions of dollars could go toward anti-doping work worldwide.

A financial penalty would be “grossly inappropriate,” according to Joseph de Pencier, chief executive of iNADO, a global group of national anti-doping agencies.

“It would send exactly the wrong message,” de Pencier said. “It’s pay to play.”

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TIMELINE

A big red flag regarding Russian doping went up in July 2013, weeks before Moscow hosted the track world championships. British newspaper the Mail on Sunday reported wrongdoing by Grigory Rodchenkov and the Moscow laboratory he directed, but its claims were mostly…

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