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  • Intrigue Reigns Hours Before IOC Executive Board Meeting


    (ATR) Influential IOC Member Sam Ramsamy tells Around the Rings he does not expect Russia’s ban to be lifted before the end of the PyeongChang 2018, following two positive doping cases at the Olympics.

    The lobby of the Intercontinental hotel (ATR)
    Other members, however, were more tightly lipped; saying a decision in today’s Executive Board meeting is still up in the air.

    All indications this week pointed at Russia’s ban being lifted by the IOC Executive Board for good behavior at the PyeongChang 2018 Games. The notion was first put forth by IOC President Thomas Bach the day he announced Russia’s ban from the Games, while allowing Russian athletes to compete as neutrals.

    That mood has shifted as two positive doping cases have been identified from the Olympic Athletes from Russia delegation. The first came earlier this week when mixed doubles curler Aleksandr Krushelnitsky tested positive for meldonium. Krushelnitsky waived his right to a hearing from the Court of Arbitration for Sport but reserved the right to seek reduction of any future ban.

    Krushelnitsky and his wife won bronze in the mixed double’s curling competition, and were forced to relinquish their medals. The fourth place Norwegian pair has already returned to PyeongChang and will receive their bronze medals tonight in a ceremony.

    Yesterday, the OAR delegation notified the IOC that Nadezhda Sergeeva, a bobsledder, registered an adverse analytical finding. Initial reports said that it was unlikely that Sergeeva’s B sample would be analyzed before the executive board met. The OAR two-person women’s bobsled team finished 12th in PyeongChang.

    IOC Vice President Ugur Erdner confirmed that the second Russian positive sample would also be taken into account by the executive board following the report from the OAR Implementation Group.

    “My view that I think its going to be very difficult to convince all of us that we should open up Russian participation now,” Ramsamy said at the IOC hotel. “The doping cases compromised it.”

    Ramsamy said that things had “looked very positive, no doubt about it” for the Russian delegation until the two positive doping cases.

    Aleksandr Krushelnitcky faces a ban from the sport (ROC/Twitter)
    “Obviously these are individual athletes, I don’t think we can blame the NOC for this but this happened all over the world,” Ramsamy said. “In this case, it is specific because we are taking at tabs on the Russians.”

    IOC Spokesperson Mark Adams would not say in his daily briefing if Ramsamy’s comments were indicative of a larger trend within the IOC. Adams said that “all behavior” by the OAR delegation will be taken into account by the Implementation Group before presenting to the IOC.

    There will be no decision communicated by the IOC Executive Board following its meeting today, rather the members will choose to deliver findings, decisions, or any other comments at tomorrow’s IOC Session.

    Adams could not confirm if the members will then have a chance to vote on the executive board’s proposal, but said to expect some debate. A growing number of IOC members have already departed PyeongChang ahead of the session, but the IOC did confirm a quorum of 49 members for tomorrow.

    Missing from the session will be two of the most vocal critics of how the IOC has handled the ongoing Russia situation, Adam Pengilly and Dick Pound. Pengilly left PyeongChang in disgrace following a still not fully explained fracas with a security official. Pound chose to skip the closing ceremony of the Games months ago, with Adams confirming the IOC doyen booked his tickets home from the Games in October.

    OAR marches into the 2018 Opening Ceremony (ATR)
    How the executive board will vote remains to be seen. Erdner said to expect a robust debate from everyone following the implementation group’s presentation. One IOC Executive Board member, when approached in the IOC hotel, said he was unaware of the second positive doping case.

    Adams said that the IOC “did the right thing” in allowing clean individual Russian athletes to participate at the Games despite the two “very disappointing” positive doping cases.

    On the eve of the decision the Institute for National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) wrote an open letter to the IOC leadership urging them to avoid letting Russia back into the Olympic family. Adams said that it is up for the individual IOC members to decide to take the letter up for advisement in their own personal decisions.

    “Regardless of what you may hope, you can’t merely ‘wish away’ the most significant fraud in the history of sport,” the letter by chair Doug MacQuarrie says. “A transgression of such magnitude warrants a proportional sanction which must go well beyond an irregular attendance at the Pyeongchang Games and paying a fine. By failing to impose a meaningful sanction on the ROC, the IOC would be culpable in this effort to defraud clean athletes of the world.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer in PyeongChang

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