HomeNewsBusinessOlympic GamesRussia

IOC upholds Russian Olympic Committee suspension

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday (Sunday) declined to allow Russia to parade under its own flag at the closing ceremony for the 2018 winter Olympic Games, but the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is expected to have its suspension lifted in the coming days.

Pyeongchang 2018 drew to a close yesterday, with the IOC’s verdict coming just hours before the closing ceremony in South Korea. Bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva on Friday became the second Russian athlete to return a positive doping test at the 2018 Games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Saturday said that Sergeeva had admitted to the offence and was disqualified from the Olympics having tested positive in an out-of-competition test for the banned heart condition product trimetazidine two days before her race.

Sergeeva finished 12th with Anastasia Kocherzhova in the women’s bobsleigh competition on Wednesday. Her test meant that Russia had been responsible for half of the positive doping tests reported at Pyeongchang 2018. Curling athlete Aleksandr Krushelnitckii was earlier stripped of his bronze medal from the 2018 Games after admitting to a doping violation for an offence concerning meldonium.

The IOC yesterday said it would have considered lifting the ROC’s suspension if the two failed tests had not occurred. Stating the news was “hugely disappointing” the IOC said that in addition to other considerations, the tests prevented it from even considering lifting the suspension for the closing ceremony.

The IOC initially moved to ban Russia from competing at the 2018 Olympics after finding evidence of an “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of doping results surrounding the 2014 Games in Sochi. The Russian team competed under the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) banner in Pyeongchang, using kit without national branding, and the IOC had given athletes the chance to apply for invitations under this status. The Russian anthem and flag was also not used during medal ceremonies.

However, the IOC had said that it may partially or fully lift the suspension of the ROC from the commencement of the closing ceremony of the 2018 Games provided its decisions from December were fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by invited athletes and officials.

The IOC yesterday added that subject to the continued compliance with the December ruling, the suspension of the ROC will be considered to be lifted once the Doping Free Sports Unit (DFSU) has confirmed that there are no additional Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) by members of the OAR delegation.

IOC president Thomas Bach gave no timeframe for lifting the suspension, but testing from Pyeongchang 2018 could be completed in a few days. “I don't think, quite frankly, that these winter Games have been tainted by the Russian affair,” Bach said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz, who chaired a Special Commission into the Russian matter, said the country’s delegation met many of the criteria required for reinstatement during the Olympics. “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.

She added: “We have to draw a line and look toward the future. It is never going to be business as usual any more in the world of sport and in Russia. Many changes have been made and many changes still have to be made.”

Russian IOC member Shamil Tarpischev blamed the positive tests on “the lack of cultural education”. He added: “These cases are isolated and we are running our own investigation. We believe this should be the end of this big problem.”

In other news, Zimbabwean IOC member and recently elected chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Kirsty Coventry, was unanimously elected to the Executive Board by the IOC Session. The Olympic swimmer replaces outgoing chair Angela Ruggiero.