WATCH: Russia Olympic committee banned from 2018 Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee says Russian athletes will be able to compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics as neutrals.

The IOC, which also suspended the Russian Olympic committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, says some competitors will be invited to participate as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR)” without their national flag or anthem.

Russia could refuse the offer and boycott the games.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said it would be humiliating for Russia to compete without national symbols.

The IOC also imposed a fine of $15 million on the Russian Olympic committee.

From April through October, almost 7,000 samples were taken from 4,000 athletes in tests co-ordinated by the IOC, World Anti-Doping Agency and winter sports federations.

The IOC says more than 17 per cent of samples were taken from Russians. Skiers and snowboarders provided 471 out of 1,240 total Russian samples.

The International Olympic Committee's top doctor, Richard Budgett says athletes going to South Korea ``can be more confident than ever'' of a clean Olympics.

Beckie Scott says she's encouraged by the International Olympic Committee's decision.

The former Canadian cross-country skier has been an anti-doping campaigner since her bronze medal in 2002 was upgraded from silver and then to gold because athletes who finished ahead of her were disqualified over failed doping tests.

The IOC says Russian athletes have to prove they're clean in order to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February. They can't wear the Russian flag or hear the Russian anthem played if they win gold.

Scott is the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency's athlete committee. She says the IOC's announcement sends a strong message to clean athletes that they'll be protected.

She also says if she was competing in Pyeongchang, she would feel there is a greater chance at a level playing field.