THERE will be no Russian anthems, flags or uniforms at February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the country was banned for state-sponsored doping.

Only Russians who can prove they have not cheated – verified by credible anti-doping agencies – will be invited to South Korea.

They will compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)", in uniforms which bear that acronym, under the Olympic flag. The Olympic anthem will be played in any ceremony.

The sanction, which may provoke a Russian boycott, was the recommendation of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) disciplinary commission led by ex-Swiss president Samuel Schmid.

He has spent the last 17 months investigating claims Russia doped more than 1000 athletes, across 30 sports, between 2011 and 2015.

That conspiracy, which has also been been corroborated by two World Anti-Doping Agency-funded (WADA) investigations, included the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Schmid's report, delivered to the 14-strong executive board on Monday, was enough to persuade IOC president Thomas Bach to take what he had previously considered to be a "nuclear option" with "too much collateral damage".

Bach said yesterday: "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."

As well as the immediate suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee, Bach announced a raft of sanctions against senior officials implicated in the scandal, including Russia's deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko who will be banned from the Olympics for life.

It has also fined the Russians 15 million US dollars (£11.16 million) to reimburse the costs of the two commissions it set up to investigate the claims and help fund the IOC's new independent testing authority. The second commission was led by IOC member Denis Oswald and focused on individual athletes at Sochi.

The neutral-athlete sanction is based on the approach taken by athletics' world governing body the IAAF at the Rio Games in 2016 and at this summer's World Championships in London.

The IOC measures will have huge repercussions for football's world governing body FIFA and next year's World Cup in Russia, as Mutko is the president of the Russian Football Union and chairman of the Russia 2018 organising committee.

The one olive branch offered is that the IOC "may partially or fully lift the suspension" in time for Russia to participate in Pyeongchang's closing ceremony.

At a press conference in Lausanne, streamed on the IOC website, Schmid said his findings were based on more than just the testimony of Russian whistle-blower Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory who fled Russia in November 2015 and is now in the witness protection scheme in the United States.

It was Rodchenkov who first revealed the scale of Russia's cheating and it was his testimony which formed the basis of the second of those WADA investigations, conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren.

Rodchenkov provided the commission with a damning 52-page affidavit, but Schmid said his team had corroborated every claim via testimony from other witnesses, forensic evidence, electronic records and further information.

Schmid said the "systemic manipulation" of the anti-doping rules in Russia "has never been seen before" and explained the legal responsibility for this lies with the sports ministry, as the ultimate power in Russian sport, and the ROC due to its obligations via the Olympic charter and as the signatory of the host-city contract for Sochi 2014.

Bach said he hoped the winter sports superpower would not react by boycotting but state news agency TASS has already reported that Russian television will not broadcast a Winter Games without a recognisably Russian team.

WADA president Craig Reedie commended the IOC's "informed decision" to sanction Russia and said the agency would be "eager to collaborate" in examining which Russians might be eligible to compete in South Korea.

"It must be proven that these athletes have not been implicated in the institutionalised scheme," he added.

In his affidavit, Rodchenkov said: "I know I have disappointed many friends and colleagues with my duplicity while serving as director of the Moscow lab. Without excusing my actions, I hope all can understand the system in which I was operating.

"I hope my cooperation with the Schmid commission, the Oswald commission, WADA, and Professor McLaren can serve as a form of repentance and absolution."