The ROC has 335 athletes competing in Tokyo, and is currently in the top 10 on the medal board, winning a gold medal, four silver medals, and three bronzes. But why is it not called Russia?
The Russians, however, are not allowed to use their country’s name, flag, and anthem, and are competing under the acronym ROC, for Russian Olympic Committee. The tally of their medals is listed next to the name ROC for the 2020 games, along with a flag that is not Russia’s official flag.
Athletes from Russia are to participate as neutrals participants.
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Russia was banned, as a country, from this year’s Olympics by the Court of Arbitration for Sport because of a doping scheme.
An investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found over 1,000 Russian athletes benefited or were involved in state-sponsored doping programs from 2011 to 2015.
Russia was originally banned from competing in the Olympics, Paralympics, and World Championship for four years until the CAS decreased the sanction to two years in 2020.
Back in 2014, runner Yulia Stepanova and her husband Vitaly, a former employee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, RUSADA, spoke out about what was later described as one of the most “sophisticated doping programmes” in sports history. They did so in a German Documentary.
Two years later, Grigory Rodchenkov, a former head of the RUSADA, told The New York Times that Russia ran a carefully planned, state-sponsored doping scheme.
He alleged a much wider conspiracy. According to him, the country’s anti-doping and members of intelligence services substituted urine samples of the athletes through a hidden hole in the wall at the agency’s laboratory during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The lab was guarded by members of Russia’s state security services.
Immediately after the allegations surfaced, the accreditation of Russia’s anti-doping lab was suspended in 2015.
Next, a series of investigations were launched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), WADA and other global federations.
Russian athletes found not to be involved in the doping scheme are still allowed to compete, but as neutrals. Athletes under the ROC designation can wear a uniform with Russia’s colours but if they win a gold medal, the Russian anthem will not be played.
In 2020, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced the initial ban of four years to two, but it ensured that no official Russian team can participate in events organised by a WADA signatory until the sanction term ends on December 16, 2022.
According to a report in The Independent, Russia will be reinstated after the ban term ends, if it respects and observes all imposed sanctions, pays its fines and contributions, and starts adhering to WADA regulations.
As per the IOC, “All public displays of the organisation’s participant name should use the acronym ‘ROC’, not the full name “Russian Olympic Committee”.
If on the kit of any participant the name ‘Russia’ is written, the words ‘neutral athlete’ must also be written. However, the athletes will still be wearing uniforms in the country’s colours, as per IOC guidance.