What does ROC stand for? And why did Russia get banned?

Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 04, 2022

Technically, Russia is banned from competing in the Olympics. But like at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Russian athletes are still competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.  

That’s because they are competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC for short. 

Why did Russia get banned?

In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from international sports competitions for four years after the country was found to be running a years-long, state-sponsored doping scheme.

That came after the International Olympic Committee suspended the ROC in 2017 for the doping scheme, which was first exposed by a whistleblower in 2016. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Russian athletes who passed drug tests competed under the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) delegation. 

WADA’s ban was shortened to two years after Russia appealed, but it runs through the end of 2022, meaning the country is not officially being recognized at the Winter Games. 

Still, the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed Russian athletes who are not linked to the doping scheme to participate in global competitions as neutral competitors. 

What will the atmosphere be like for Russian athletes?

The 215 Russian athletes at the Winter Olympics will be playing under a flag containing the Olympic rings and red, white and blue stripes. If a Russian athlete wins gold, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 will play instead of the Russian national anthem.

Russian government officials are also not allowed to attend the Olympics, but senior officials can if the host country invites them. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the Opening Ceremony on Friday as a guest of China's president, Xi Jinping.

Will Russia get to compete at the next Olympics?

Yes, as the ban ends on Dec. 16, 2022. Barring further incidents, Russian athletes would be able to compete under their own flag at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.