Published: Mon, February 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

IOC debates Russia's Olympic fate as clock ticks

IOC debates Russia's Olympic fate as clock ticks

Russian athletes will not be allowed to march behind their national flag at the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Games after two tested positive for doping.

The closing day of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea's PyeongChang entered the history of the Russian Olympic ice hockey with the team of neutral athletes from Russia edging the team from Germany 4-3 in the overtime of the match for the gold medal on Sunday.

Now a second athlete from the Olympic Athletes of Russia team (competing instead of the banned Team Russia - complicated, this) at the 2018 Winter Olympics has tested positive for a banned substance.

In December, the International Olympic Committee had held out the prospect of lifting Russia's suspension for the closing ceremony, on the condition its athletes met a strict code of conduct, including compliance with anti-doping rules and observance of athlete neutrality.

"This was hugely disappointing and, in addition to other considerations, prevented the International Olympic Committee from even considering lifting the suspension for the Closing Ceremony", the International Olympic Committee executive board said in a statement.

The massive, state-linked Russian doping scandal didn't stain the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach said Sunday. So on Sunday morning, the IOC refused to reinstate the team in time for the closing but left the door open for near-term redemption from what one exasperated committee member called "this entire Russian Federation drama".

Within two days of the hack, an Olympic official said he knew "the cause of the problem", and the source, but refused to divulge more.

"Despite the fact that two Russian Athletes appear to have been caught doping at these winter Olympics, it looks very much that shortly Russia will be back in Olympic competition", she said.

An IOC statement confirmed that positive doping cases involving curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, who has been stripped of a mixed doubles bronze medal, and bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, scuppered the possibility of the suspension being lifted prior to the ceremony. "It is never going to be business as usual any more in the world of sport and in Russian Federation".

Meldonium, a widely used anti-ischemia medication, was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency right at the start of 2016, a move which affected hundreds of athletes who were caught off-guard by the ban.

Meanwhile, a high-level delegation of North Korean officials has arrived in Pyeongchang to attend the closing ceremony.

"What should I say?"

South Korea's women's curling team celebrate after beating Russian athletes during their match at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Feb.21, 2018. I think they have two more positive doping tests.

"It's not fair for all the other guys, we fight for the medals".

"The IOC would have considered lifting the suspension".

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