Greek actress Katerina Lehou (1st R) in the role of an Ancient Greek High Priestess passes the Sacred Olympic Flame to Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos at Panathenaic stadium in Athens on Oct. 31, 2017,during the handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.(Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
GENEVA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics set for next February in PyeongChang, South Korea, over doping concerns.
The IOC decided to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee with immediate effect, but Russian athletes would still be able to compete at the Pyeongchang games in uniforms bearing the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" under the Olympic Flag, and the Olympic Anthem will be played in any ceremony.
Last year, an independent WADA commission headed by Professor Richard McLaren released a report accusing Russia of state-sponsored doping programs to illegally boost Russian athletes' performances.
The report was largely based on the testimony of the former head of a Moscow anti-doping lab Grigory Rodchenkov, who fled to the United States at the end of 2015, becoming an informant for WADA.
The scandal prevented a large number of Russian athletes and officials from participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics and raised queries about the participation of the Russian national team in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea's PyeongChang.
But Russia has denied state-sponsored doping scheme alleged by WADA report.
The Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement earlier in November that "The investigation had obtained data that WADA lacked any evidence of Russia's guilt in the mass use of doping by athletes."