March 22, 2018

Russian athletes march as 'OAR' at Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

11 February 2018, 02:17 | Joan Schultz

Shamil Zhumatov Reuters

Shamil Zhumatov  Reuters

Earlier, it was reported that Russian athletes could buy and wear hats of white-blue-red colours that are sold as official Olympic merchandise.

The NHL's decision not to release players for the Olympic tournament in South Korea, however, has arguably helped the Russian team, who are drawn from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which is widely considered the world's second best. Reeb did not take any questions.

"We have a surveillance programme looking at the action and behaviour of the OAR team and they will report back at the end of the Games to the executive board to see if not just the letter but the spirit of the law has been breached", International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said.

In December, the IOC chose to suspend the ROC from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games over the doping scandal, but allowed clean Russian athletes to compete in uniforms bearing the name "Olympic Athlete from Russia" under the Olympic Flag, with the Olympic anthem to be played in any ceremony instead of the Russian anthem.

The International Olympic Committee had banned Russian Federation because of a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games, but gave individual athletes the chance to apply for admission to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation".

The highly politicized Pyeongchang Olympics are officially opening, but not without some last-minute drama as the Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to announce whether 45 excluded Russian athletes can compete.

The athletes that are clean are competing under the neutral flag.

Though there are several restrictions for OAR athletes.

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Among the athletes who were hoping to gatecrash the Olympics by forcing an invite through CAS were Victor Ahn and and Elena Nikitina.

The other 32, including three-time Games gold medallist An, were also left off the list of Russians invited to Pyeongchang.

"I think this [alternative competition] will take place after the Olympic Games, in March", Interfax cited Russia's former sports minister and current Deputy Prime Minister, Vitaly Mutko, as saying Thursday. "That's what I hope".

The ruling is an endorsement of the IOC's procedures put in place in December following their own investigations into the systemic use of performance-enhancing drugs at the last Winter Games, held in Russian Federation.

CAS said the Russian side "did not demonstrate" that the process the International Olympic Committee put into place, two special panels to vet and independently review each individual application, was "carried out in a discriminatory, arbitrary or unfair manner". "The Panel also concluded that there was no evidence the (commissions) improperly exercised their discretion".

The IOC banned Russian Federation from the Games over a doping scandal.

The CAS ruling is a heavy blow to Russian medal chances in Pyeongchang.

A previous report had already documented how during the Sochi Games, Russian athletes had their urine samples snuck out of labs through "mouse holes", opened up using a technique that allows the seal to stay intact, replaced with clean urine, and then placed back in the lab.

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