LONDON: Russia’s imminent return from a doping suspension will not be derailed because its hockey players sang their national anthem, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said.
The Russian men’s team defied IOC rules by belting out the anthem at their medal ceremony following Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against Germany in the gold-medal game. Russian fans at the match also sang along.
“We understand that this was over excitement by the athletes who had just won a gold medal in extraordinary circumstances,” the IOC said.
Players on the Russian team said they agreed before the game that they would sing the anthem.
The IOC suspended Russia’s membership in December over a doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics, but allowed 168 Russians to enter the Pyeongchang Olympics as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in neutral uniforms.
They had to sign a document agreeing not to display any national symbols or protest the restrictions. The Olympic anthem played when Russians won gold.
The IOC voted against reinstating Russia in time for the closing ceremony Sunday, which would have allowed Russian athletes to march under their national flag.
However, the IOC decided that Russia will be reinstated if no more of its athletes fail drug tests from the Pyeongchang Games. Russia produced two of the four doping cases announced so far.
Testing of samples taken from Russians in Pyeongchang is nearing its end, and Russian IOC member Shamil Tarpishchev told the state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday that reinstatement could come as soon as Tuesday.
WADA CRITICIZE DECISION
The World Anti-Doping Agency stopped short of endorsing the IOC’s decision to lift Russia’s suspension if no new positive drug tests come to light from the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics.
In a statement WADA said it acknowledged the IOC’s latest move but pointed out that Russia is still not adhering to the World Anti-Doping Code.
“It should be clarified that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) remains non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code as it has not yet met the necessary criteria of RUSADA’s Roadmap to Compliance, following Russia’s proven systemic manipulation of the doping control process,” WADA said.
Meanwhile, the IOC decision was slammed by the lawyer for Russian whistleblower and former Moscow drug lab director Grigory Rodchenkov (left).
“Thomas Bach was a drowning man,” lawyer Jim Walden said. “But finally cooler heads within the IOC threw him a life preserver. Yet in the decision, the IOC had the gall to claim Russia ‘respected’ its decision in December to institute the suspension.