Russia to compete under ROC acronym in Tokyo as part of doping sanctions

FILE PHOTO: The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland, January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BERLIN (Reuters) - Russian athletes will compete under the acronym ROC at the Tokyo Olympics this year, as part of sanctions for several doping scandals, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday.

The full name of the Russian Olympic Committee could not be used and team flags would bear the logo of the committee, it said.

If the word Russian could not be removed from team uniforms, the term 'Neutral Athlete' must be added.

"All public displays of the organisation's participant name should use the acronym 'ROC', not the full name "Russian Olympic Committee", the IOC said in a statement.

The logo of the Russian Olympic Committee consists of three flames in the national Russian flag colours with the Olympic rings below them.

Russian athletes have been banned from competing under their national flag and anthem at the Tokyo Olympics as well as the Beijing winter Olympics in 2022 and world championships in all sports in 2021 and 2022 as part of sanctions issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

WADA had originally banned Russia from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December 2019, but the duration of the sanctions was halved to two years by a Swiss Court last year.

"The Russian Olympic Committee will submit a proposed musical score to be played for all ceremonies," the IOC said.

"This musical score will be subject to the IOC Executive Board's approval."

Russia’s doping woes have snowballed since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping among the country’s track and field athletes.

Many Russian athletes were sidelined from the past two Olympics and the country was deprived of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games in southern Russia.

Russia, which has in the past acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping policies, denies running a state-sponsored doping programme.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed from last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are scheduled to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Clare Fallon)

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