No Flag for Russian Athletes After IOC Upholds Ban

On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee voted to uphold their ban on Russia's Olympic team over allegations of doping, meaning athletes won't be allowed to march in the closing ceremony under their own flag.

The vote was cast on Sunday in Pyeongchang, within hours of the ceremony itself. According to the Associated Press, the IOC made its decision based on two cases of alleged doping involving Russian competitors since the games kicked off. Russia and its athletes are still on thin ice for their alleged state-sponsored doping program, which cast a shadow over the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russian athletes were still allowed to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, but they were forced to do so under the name of Olympic Athletes from Russia, rather than Team Russia. The semantic penalty did little to slow down Russian fans, who were seen in venues clad in Russia's white, blue and red flag colors throughout the games, often chanting phrases like "Russia in my heart."

However, the country's pride was damaged yet again when Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky tested positive for a banned substance known as meldonium. The bronze medal he won alongside his wife and team mate, Anastasia Brynzgalova, was stripped last week and given to the fourth place team from Norway.

Krushelnitsky didn't deny that the endurance-boosting drug was in his system, though Russian curling officials tried to suggest that it might have been slipped into something he ate or drank before the games began without his knowledge. They're reportedly investigating the incident.

Just this week, Russian bobsled pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva tested positive for a banned heart medication called trimetazidine. The 30-year-old athlete was photographed in training wearing a shirt that read "I don't do doping." She and her partner came in 12th place in the two-man bobsled competition on Wednesday.

Still, the Olympic Athletes from Russia will take home 17 medals at the end of the games in Pyeongchang. It's not up to Russia's usual standards for winter games, but it's impressive considering their legal struggles and scandals. The country even obtained two gold medals — one in ladies' figure skating, and one in men's ice hockey.


The U.S. Biathlon team announced on Saturday that they'd be boycotting next month's World Cup Final in Russia, as a statement against doping in the athletic world.