IOC recommends upholding ban of Russia through Winter Games

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Pyeongchang Olympics Figure Skating Pairs_650719

IOC President Thomas Bach, centre, talks to North Korean figure skater Ryom Tae Ok, left, and Kim Ju Sik, right, as they watch the pairs free skate figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) The International Olympic Committee executive board has recommended upholding the ban of Russia from the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

The full membership is to vote on the proposal Sunday ahead of the closing ceremony, and exclusion would mean the 168 athletes competing here as ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” would not be able to march under their own flag.

IOC President Thomas Bach said a condition for Russia’s reinstatement is 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.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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