Head of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Alexander Zhukov, said Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the IOC earlier in the day showing that the Russians would no longer be banned from Olympic games over doping allegations.
“The rights of the Russian Olympic Committee have been fully restored ... All of the doping tests that were conducted on our athletes in the last days of the Olympics were negative,” Zhukov said of Pyeongchang games in South Korea, where Russia was banned to have an official presence for a second successive Olympic event.
Some 169 Russian athletes contested the Winter Games under a neutral flag and the men ice hockey team was also crowned champion. However, the IOC did not allow the Russian flag in the opening and closing ceremony. Russians had also been banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The IOC has yet to officially confirm the exoneration of Russians from the bans.
Allegations of widespread doping among Russian athletes emerged after the previous Winter Games in 2014 in Russia’s Sochi. IOC officials have since accused the Russian government of sponsoring doping practices while Vitaly Mutko, currently a deputy prime minister and the former top sport official in Russia, was suspended for life. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations of the government’s involvement in the issue and maintains that the IOC investigation has been influenced by political motives.
Zhukov, the ROC chief, hailed the IOC decision to exonerate Russia from Olympic bans, saying it was a huge success for the Russians.
“Today's IOC's decision is very important for us. The ROC is an absolutely full-fledged member of the Olympic family,” said Zhukov, adding, “I would like to thank our athletes who were able to perform well even despite the provocations.”