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Sports News

Feb 25, 2018
12:54PM

Russian athletes not be able to march behind their flag at Winter Olympics closing ceremony


Russian athletes will not be able to march behind their flag at the Pyeongchang Winter Games closing ceremony today after the IOC voted unanimously to keep the country's ban for mass doping. 

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the suspension could be lifted later if no further positive drug tests come out of the Games after two Russians tested positive for doping in Pyeongchang. Russia was banned in December from taking part in the 2018 Olympics following revelations of widespread drug-cheating, but 168 athletes deemed "clean" were allowed to compete as neutrals.

They were representing "Olympic Athletes from Russia" under strict guidelines including a ban on Russia's national flag, national colours and the Russian national anthem. The vote to keep the ban followed a recommendation from the IOC's executive board, which met yesterday and early today to thrash out Russia's fate.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the IOC could have considered lifting the suspension given that the Olympic Athletes from Russia had respected the IOC's decision of December 5. Bach said two Russian athletes, however, tested positive for doping in Pyeongchang. He said this was hugely disappointing and does not permit the IOC to envisage lifting the suspension of Russia for the closing ceremony. 

The IOC vote means that Russia will never be recorded as having taken part in the Pyeongchang Games despite the fact that the 168 Russians represented the fourth biggest delegation at the Games.

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