Russian athletes cannot march under flag at Winter Olympics closing ceremony as doping ban upheld

Olympic Athletes from Russia at the opening ceremony. Credit: PA

Russia's Olympic ban has been upheld, meaning the country's athletes will not be able to march under their flag during the Winter Olympics closing ceremony.

The decision was made after two Russian athletes failed drugs tests at the PyeongChang Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted on Sunday to uphold the ban over widespread doping at the Sochi 2014 Games, meaning the 168 athletes competing under the name the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" will have to march under the Olympic flag at Sunday's closing ceremony.

The committee also voted that if no further violations emerge, the suspension will be lifted in the future.

While Russia as a country was banned from the 2018 Games in South Korea, if Russian athletes were able to prove that they were clean, they were allowed to compete as part of the OAR team and the possibility of reinstatement ahead of the closing ceremony was left open.

The executive board's recommendation was approved by the full IOC board just hours before the ceremony.

Currently, two OAR athletes competing at the Games - curler Alexander Krushelnitsky and bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva - have failed drugs tests.

Krushelnitsky was stripped of the mixed curling bronze he won with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, after testing positive for meldonium which increases blood flow.

Alexander Krushelnitsky has been stripped of the medal he won. Credit: AP

Bobsleigh pilot Sergeeva, who finished 12th in the women's two-person bobsleigh with her brakewoman Anastasia Kocherzhova, was thrown out of the Games after testing positive for heart drug trimetazidine.

The session heard a report from Nicole Hoevertsz, who headed up an implementation group detailed to report back on the behaviour of the OAR delegation during the Games.

Bobsleigh pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva has been thrown out of the PyeongChang Games. Credit: PA

IOC president Thomas Bach told the session ahead of the vote: "Having received the report of the implementation group and discussed it the IOC executive board decided not to lift the suspension of the the ROC for the closing ceremony of the Games.

"The IOC would have considered lifting the suspension. However two Olympic athletes from Russia failed doping tests here in Pyeongchang.

"This was very disappointing and prevented the IOC from considering lifting the ban for the closing ceremony.

"The suspension of the ROC is considered to be lifted once it is confirmed that there are no additional doping violations from the members of the OAR...

"There is no evidence of systemic doping and no evidence of the involvement of the Russian Olympic Committee in these cases."

Ms Hoevertsz, while presenting her implementation report, said: "I believe that we should draw a line. We have to draw a line and look towards the future. We need to bring this story to an end and look forward. It is never going to be business as usual in sport again or in Russia."

Shamil Tarpischev, an IOC member from Russia, blamed the positive test on "the lack of cultural education. These cases are isolated and we are running our own investigation."

Mr Tarpischev also attempted to draw a line under the scandal, stating it "should be the end of this big problem".

The IOC holds testing samples for 10 years, often uncovering positive cases years after medals had been awarded.