Russia banned from 2018 Olympics, AK skiers speak out against doping

Russian athletes Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin, who won gold and silver, respectively, in the men’s 50 km mass start during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were both found guilty of doping and stripped of their medals. (Photo via the Office of the Russian President.)

Russia has been banned from the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea. The International Olympic Committee made the announcement at a news conference on Dec. 5.

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Thomas Bach is the president of the IOC.

“The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect,” Bach declared.

The ban is based on a report that shows long-term manipulation of anti-doping efforts in Russia, including during the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi.

“The report clearly lays out an unprecedented attack on the integrity of Olympic games and sports,” Bach explained.

WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, is leading the effort against that attack. Earlier this year WADA and the IOC laid out the evidence of widespread doping in Russia– evidence that Rosie Brennan has spoken out against.

Brennan skis professionally for Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage and is the U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s athlete representative for WADA. Brennan says she’s happy the IOC came to this decision– that the committee supports clean and healthy athletes.

Six Russian cross-country skiers were found guilty of doping during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, two of whom have been stripped of their medals.

Brennan said there’s no tolerance for doping on the American team.

“We are held to a pretty high moral standard and our coaches have been pretty supportive against doping,” Brennan said, “and so I just think we have the kind of culture that frowns upon doping and looks at it as a pretty negative aspect of sport in general.”

So far, Sadie Bjornsen is the only Alaskan qualified for the upcoming Olympics. In a written statement, Bjornsen said it’s her dream to win an Olympic medal and she’s worked hard to do that in a clean and healthy way.

She said she’s thankful the IOC has the same expectations for the athletes she’ll be competing against at the upcoming winter Olympics.

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Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer. Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF. Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about. Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.