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McCain says Russia should lose World Cup after Olympics ban

A girl poses for a photo in front of a clock counting down to the first match of the 2018 World Cup, which is installed on Manezh Square, outside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that Russia should not be eligible to host next year’s World Cup soccer tournament because it was banned from the Winter Olympics.

“[Tuesday]’s announcement sends an important message to Putin’s Russia that being a member of the international community means abiding by rules, norms, and standards—and that anything less will not be tolerated,” McCain said in a statement.

The International Olympics Committee banned Russia from upcoming games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, after evidence suggested the country ran an orchestrated doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Russian athletes will still be allowed to compete at the games but under a neutral flag.

McCain said the alleged Russian doping ring “cheated countless Olympic athletes out of the medals they deserved.”

“(Soccer organizing body) FIFA should add the IOC’s decision to the list of reasons why the 2018 World Cup should not be held in Russia.”

Vitaly Mutko, the president of Russia’s soccer union and head of its World Cup team, was one of several officials banned for life by the Olympic committee on Tuesday.

In a statement, FIFA said the committee’s decision to ban Mutko would have “no impact” on one of the largest sports events in the world.

Russia could boycott the Olympics games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.

“An Olympic boycott has never achieved anything,” IOC President Thomas Bach said at a news conference. “Secondly, I don’t see any reason for a boycott by the Russian athletes because we allow the clean athletes there to participate.”

The sanctions could be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Russian doping program caused “unprecedented damage to Olympism and sports,” said IOC-appointed investigator Samuel Schmid, the former president of Switzerland who was asked to verify an “institutional conspiracy.”

Russia has repeatedly refused to accept that a state-sponsored doping program existed. Such denials helped ensure bans on its track federation and anti-doping agency have not been lifted.

Instead, Russia blames Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Moscow and Sochi testing laboratories, as a rogue employee. It wants the scientist extradited from the United States, where he is a protected witness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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