IOC lifts suspension of Russia

MOSCOW • The International Olympic Committee has lifted a doping ban against Russia, restoring the country's rights in full, Russian officials said yesterday.

"The rights of the Russian Olympic Committee have been fully restored," said Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

Zhukov said Russia received a letter from the IOC which confirms that no other Olympic athletes from Russia had tested positive for doping, following two failed Russian drug tests at last month's Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

"All of the doping tests that were conducted on our athletes in the last days of the Olympics were negative," Zhukov said.

The IOC decided in a meeting on Sunday that in such an event - alongside its other demands, including the payment of US$15 million (S$19.8 million) to reimburse the costs incurred by the IOC in the course of the doping scandal probe - the suspension of the ROC would be lifted.

The money, which the ROC announced was paid in full last week, would also be used to establish an independent testing authority "to build the capacity and integrity of the global anti-doping system".

Russia was banned in December from taking part in the Winter Games following revelations of widespread doping, though 168 athletes were deemed "clean" and were cleared to go to Pyeongchang to compete under the Olympic flag.

However, two Russians, curler Alexander Krushelnitsky and bobsleigher Nadezhda Sergeyeva, were kicked out of the Games after failing their doping tests, with the former stripped of his bronze medal.

The Russian government has denied any state involvement in the doping plot but a top sports official, Vitaly Mutko, currently Russia's deputy prime minister, was suspended by the IOC for life.

Russia's reinstatement in the IOC does not affect the suspended status of Rusada, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. "There's still a lot of work to be done which is likely to be as difficult as the work to reinstate the ROC," Zhukov said. "But we must do this quickly to create a comprehensive system to fight doping in Russia."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'IOC lifts suspension of Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe