Doping cases of two Russian athletes 'cast a serious shadow'

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has admitted the doping cases of two Russian athletes at the Winter Olympics "have cast a serious shadow".

Bach says the cases involving two athletes representing the Olympic Athletes of Russia delegation stopped the IOC from lifting its suspension of Russia in time for Sunday's closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The decision means Russian athletes will parade under the Olympic flag and not their own.

However, the IOC say the Russian Olympic Committee will be reinstated in the near future, so long as there are no new doping cases involving the remaining 166 OAR athletes.

"We recognise these two cases have cast a serious shadow over the OAR delegation and this is why we did not lift the suspension," Bach said.

The ban will be lifted automatically, if there are no more positive tests, Bach said.

Nicole Hoevertsz, who led an implementation group detailed to report back on the behaviour of the OAR delegation during the Games, 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."

The suspension was imposed in December for the Sochi 2014 scandal, when Russian athletes and officials were found to be involved in systemic use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The IOC did invite Russian athletes to Pyeongchang who had met specific criteria and been rigorously tested prior to the Games.

Still there were two positive drug tests. But Bach insisted the cases involving curler Alexander Krushelnitsky and bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva were isolated.

He added: "There was no indication that these two cases were due to a systematic approach or that the delegation was trying to assist or cover up. These are cases of negligence.

"The OAR delegation was very proactive. In the case of the mixed curlers they gave the medal back right away."

Krushelnitsky won mixed doubles curling bronze with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, but the medal was reallocated after his positive test for meldonium and subsequent disqualification.

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.

Bach defended the robustness of the IOC disciplinary on Russia, who paid a US dollars 15million fine during the Pyeongchang Games.

"We think this is a fair and appropriate sanction," Bach added.

"I don't think, quite frankly, that these Olympic Winter Games have been tainted by the Russian affair.

"We had no Russian team here. This was a clear message. On the other hand we had the invited Russian athletes."

Bach refused to speculate on the possibility of stored samples showing further positive tests in the longer-term. The IOC re-testing programme for Beijing 2008 and London 2012 uncovered numerous doping cases, many involving Russian athletes.

OAR athletes will in future be treated the same as athletes from any other delegation, Bach said.

"We will always have positive cases with every nation," he added.

"We have to be realistic. The day where we say we have won this fight against doping will not come.

"A positive case does not put the whole system of elite sport into question but shows on the other side the determination of different organisations to fight against doping, regardless of the country or the nationality."

Bach also suggested the IOC was ready to take the Winter Olympics back to a traditional winter sports location, after the 2014 Games in Sochi, 2018 in Pyeongchang and 2022 in Beijing.

He added: "The Olympic Winter Games 2026 in a traditional winter sports destination, whether it is in the Americas, or Europe or in Asia doesn't matter."

- PA

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