PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - The International Olympic Committee dashed Russian athletes’ hopes of marching behind their national flag at the Pyeongchang Games on Sunday, deciding against immediately lifting Russia’s Olympic suspension after fresh doping violations.
Russians have been competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia, with the nation’s Olympic status suspended, as IOC punishment for years of drug scandals involving allegations that Russia ran a systematic, state-backed drug-cheating program.
The IOC said two Russian doping violations during the Pyeongchang Games had marred an otherwise clean report card for the Russian delegation here.
“This was hugely disappointing and, in addition to other considerations, prevented the IOC from even considering lifting the suspension for the closing ceremony,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in presenting the recommendation to IOC members.
Bach said Russia’s Olympic status would only be restored once it was confirmed the Russians had committed no other doping violations in South Korea.
Competition at the Winter Games concludes on Sunday and final drug testing results might not be known for several days or even weeks.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Elena Valbe, president of the Russian cross-country skiing federation.
“Some athletes stayed behind later with the hope that they would be walking under the Russian flag. I’ve heard athletes say that they were staying just because they wanted to walk with the flag and in our uniform.”