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Russian Athletes Compete Despite Doping Ban

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State-sponsored doping allegations against 28 athletes on Russia’s Olympic Team resulted in the stripping of 13 of their medals from the 2014 games in Sochi. Furthermore, Russia was banned from competing in the 2018 games – but, 169 of its athletes competed as neutrals under the name Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR). The International Olympic Committee (IOC) specified that “no national identification design elements should be featured on the uniforms” – no national flag, anthem, emblem or symbols. The Olympic flag and anthem would be used for them at any medal ceremonies. The only exception was that the athletes could hang flags in their rooms as long as they were kept out of public view.

Nadezhda Sergeeva (right) and Anastasia Kocherzhova prepare to start during the women’s bobsled training run at the 2018 Winter Olympics on February 18, 2018. (Wong Maye-E/AP)

However, Russian fans and athletes alike maintained their patriotism throughout the competitions. Former figure skater Maxim Trankov, double gold medalist in Sochi, said, “We are all Russian patriots, all athletes. It doesn’t matter how we are called: Olympic Athletes from Russia or Team Russia. It doesn’t matter because our homeland, it’s Russia.”

Russia still managed to win 17 medals, including two gold in women’s figure skating and men’s ice hockey. Furthermore, after the final drug tests came back negative, the IOC voted to lift the doping ban and reinstate Russia’s national Olympic team with immediate effect.

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