Russia’s ban from the Olympic movement was lifted yesterday despite two failed doping tests by its athletes at the Pyeongchang winter games.
President Vladimir Putin hailed the move during a Kremlin award ceremony for Olympic athletes, saying “We must turn this page.”
“We must draw relevant conclusions for ourselves, but I hope that international organisations also will eventually understand that sports must be kept away from problems unrelated to it,” he added.
The decision by the Inter-national Olympic Committee (IOC) appears to be an attempt to draw a line under the state-concocted doping scandal that tarnished the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
The IOC allowed more than 160 athletes it determined were clean to compete in Sochi as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in Pyeongchang earlier this month with a prohibition on the national anthem or flag in venues.
“You can take away any attributes, but you can’t take away our character, and you have proven it with your performance,” Putin said after giving state awards to Olympic athletes in the Kremlin. “It has filled us all a sense of pride.”
He referred to members of the Russian ice hockey team performing the national anthem after receiving the Olympic gold, saying he would like to thank them for their patriotism.
“Millions of people are happy for your victories along with you!” he said.
Russia’s hopes of marching under its flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony in South Korea were stymied by the two positive tests for banned substances, including a curler who had to forfeit his bronze medal. But the IOC said yesterday that all remaining test results were negative, clearing the path for Russia’s return to the Olympic fold.