Russia has been banned from competing at next year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The International Olympic Committee has ordered The Russian Olympic Committee to also pay $15m in costs its part in a state-sponsored doping programme at the Sochi Games in 2014.

The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not be played. However, Russian athletes who can prove they are clean from drugs would be allowed to compete in South Korea under a neutral flag. The official record books will show that Russia won zero medals.

Tuesday's ruling comes three years after allegations first surfaced of state-sponsored doping in Russia.

IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement: "This was an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and sport. This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency]."

Before the announcement, Russian athletes were coping with extremely strict scrutiny, having turned in the largest number of tests ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korean PyeongChang, Russian news agency TASS reported.

Overall, 1,240 doping samples have been taken from Russian athletes, compared to Germany - which came in second - with 844 doping samples collected. Canadians gave in 504, the US came fourth with 422, and lastly Swedish athletes had 403 tests taken, according to a document posted on the website of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Now the world will wait to see how Russia responds. In the meantime, the Winter Olympics will go ahead without one of the powerhouses of Olympic sport.

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