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Olympics' Board Does Not Lift Suspension Of Russian Olympic Committee

Citing two cases of Russian athletes who were disqualified over doping at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee says it won't yet lift its suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Going into the Winter Games, the IOC had said there was a chance Russia's athletes could march under their country's flag at the closing ceremony — depending on how the athletes behaved.

But while the Olympic Athletes from Russia following restrictions on displaying their nationality, two of the team's athletes failed doping tests, including curling bronze medalist Alexander Krushelnitckii, part of a successful mixed doubles team. The team's award was stripped and reassigned to a team from Norway.

It was "hugely disappointing," the IOC's executive board said, adding that the doping cases and other factors had "prevented the IOC from even considering lifting the suspension for the closing ceremony."

In Pyeongchang, there had been a sense that the IOC might lift the ban on Russia – particularly after its national committee paid a $15 million fine that was levied along with the suspension. But the picture changed with the emergence of two doping cases.

The board had targeted this weekend to decide whether to lift the suspension and allow the Russian Olympic Committee to participate in Sundays' finale. The national committee was suspended in December. As a result, Russian athletes in South Korea have been competing under a neutral flag, and with the title Olympic Athlete from Russia.

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As for when the suspension might be lifted, the IOC board said it will happen "once the Doping Free Sports Unit (DFSU) has confirmed that there are no additional Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) by members of the OAR delegation."

The DFSU is the agency that's been handling the testing of athletes in Pyeongchang.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.