Despite Doping Scandal, IOC Restores Russia’s Olympic Membership

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Jack Wisniewski Contributor
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With negative results for the remaining Russian athlete doping tests, Russia’s Olympic membership has been officially restored, the International Olympics Committee announced Wednesday.

This decision comes just three days after the commencement of the closing ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, which the IOC set as the earliest possible time to lift the suspension in its initial decision to suspend the Russian Olympic Committee on Dec. 5, 2017.

Despite its parameters, the IOC entertained the possibility of lifting the suspension prior to the closing ceremony. However, the IOC reaffirmed its guidelines in light of two Russian athletes, one bobsledder and one curler, failing doping tests in PyeongChang.

“This was hugely disappointing and, in addition to other considerations, prevented the IOC from even considering lifting the suspension for the Closing Ceremony,” the IOC’s statement reads.

The IOC Executive Board opted to wait for the Doping-Free Sport Unit to confirm that there were no additional doping violations by Russian athletes before fully lifting the suspension.

With the ROC suspended, the IOC permitted a neutral team of clean Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic flag and anthem as Olympic Athletes from Russia. OAR competed as the fourth largest team with 168 athletes and placed seventh by winning 17 medals, including two golds, none of which counted towards Russia’s all-time medal count.

Reports confirming the “systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system” in Russia from as far back as Sochi 2014 prompted the IOC to follow through with the immediate suspension of the ROC. The IOC also instituted lifetime Olympic bans for officials of the Russian Ministry of Sport at the time of the allegations.

Whether this will impact Russia’s future compliance with anti-doping rules is uncertain, as many believe the punishment is insubstantial.

In its history, Russia has been stripped of 51 medals due to doping violations — the most of any country and more than a third of the global total.