PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The International Olympic Committee on Sunday upheld the ban of Russia from the Pyeongchang Winter Games because of doping, denying the 168 athletes competing here as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” the right to march in the opening ceremony under their country’s flag.
The IOC’s full membership unanimously approved the recommendation of the executive board just hours before the final competition of the Olympics. Fifty-two of the IOC’s 100 members were present for the vote.
IOC President Thomas Bach said a condition for Russia’s reinstatement was no further positive drug tests at these Olympics. Two of the four athletes who tested positive in Pyeongchang were Russian, including a curler who had to return his bronze medal.
“The IOC executive board decided first not to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for the closing ceremony,” Bach said, “therefore, no delegation of the Russian Olympic Committee will have taken part in these Olympic Winter Games.”
Russia was banned from the Olympics on Dec. 5 because of a massive doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Games. The IOC left open the possibility of reinstatement ahead of the closing ceremony if the Russians met a series of criteria, and Russian athletes were allowed to participate under the Olympic flag.
IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz from Aruba and head of the Russia implementation group said the Russian delegation met many of the criteria required for reinstatement during the Olympics.
The two failed drug tests, however, were too much.
“Despite a good collaboration from the OAR delegation to respond to these (doping) cases in a prompt and transparent way, the implementation group was convinced that these cases caused significant concern,” Hoevertsz said.
The Russia committee met for hours Saturday and presented their findings Sunday morning to the full membership.