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Four Russian Olympic Skeleton Racers Banned For Doping

Yelena Nikitina of Russia celebrates her bronze-medal win in Sochi on February 14, 2014.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned for life four Russian skeleton athletes over doping violations stemming from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Gold medalist Aleksandr Tretyakov, bronze medalist Yelena Nikitina, Maria Orlova, and Olga Potylitsyna were banned on November 22. The four were also retroactively disqualified from the Sochi games, meaning that Tretyakov and Nikitina were stripped of their medals.

Russian sports have been rocked by doping allegations since 2015, when whistle-blowers presented evidence of widespread doping and cover-ups going back at least to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The World Anti-Doping Agency on November 16 ruled not to reinstate the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA, after finding it failed to comply with anti-doping mandates. RUSADA was suspended in 2015.

In the wake of that decision, the IOC is set to decide at its executive board meeting from December 5-7 whether Russia and its athletes can participate in the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which run from February 9-25.

Anti-doping advocates are pushing for a ban on the whole Russian team, but some say this is unlikely.

More than 100 Russian athletes were banned from last year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over failed drug tests. But the rest of the Russian team was allowed to compete under the Russian flag.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP