The PyeongChang Olympics have largely been a disaster for Russia.
The country was initially banned from the Games by the International Olympic Committee because of a sophisticated doping scheme when it hosted the 2014 Sochi Games.
The end result was a delegation of 168 athletes competing under the banner of Olympic Athletes from Russia seen as a mockery to the supposed sanctions handed down by the IOC. But it didn’t take long to realize that this was a neutered version of a Russian Olympics representation.
Through Saturday, OAR had tallied 16 total medals with just one gold. With one short Sunday slate of competition left in PyeongChang, OAR won’t come close to the tally Russia posted in 2014, even with the OAR hockey team guaranteed a silver medal at worst. Russia led the total medal count in Sochi with 29 and tied Norway for the lead in golds with 11.
And as the Games have wound down, two OAR athletes have tested positive for a banned substance.
But despite all of that, Russian athletes are responsible for possibly the iconic competition and moment from the Winter Games. Figure skaters Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova put on a dazzling, emotional show in the ladies free skate Friday with almost perfect routines that saw Zagitova edge her teammate for the gold medal.
As cynical as one can be about Russia’s participation in PyeongChang, it was hard to watch the two skate and not appreciate the artistry and athleticism of their competition.
And now, the Russians are using Medvedeva to prop up a last-ditch long-shot effort to legitimize Russia’s presence in PyeongChang. Basically, they’re asking the IOC to allow them to fly their flag during Sunday’s Closing Ceremony.
Medvedeva joined OAR delegation chief Stanislav Pozdnyakov Saturday to appeal to the IOC to restore Russia’s status at the Olympics.
“We firmly believe that we have completely fulfilled the conditions,” Pozdnyakov told reporters after he and Medvedeva met with the IOC.
That seems unlikely, as does the sight of a Russian flag flying during the Closing Ceremony.
But the IOC did not immediately shut the door on the prospect. After several hours of deliberation, the board charged with making a decision didn’t make one. It will resume deliberation early Sunday and presumably have a decision in time for the ceremony.
Here’s guessing even an appeal from Medvedeva herself can’t convince the IOC to turn a blind eye to a pair of doping infractions during the Games.
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