Canadian Olympic Committee president says Russia shouldn't get its flag back
Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith responds to a question during a news conference at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, February 8, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, February 24, 2018 8:59AM EST
PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of -- Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith doesn't want the Russian team to have their national flag restored for Sunday's closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.
Smith said it "would not be appropriate" because a Russian mixed doubles curler and bobsledder tested positive for banned substances in Pyeongchang.
"Especially in light of the second doping offence, our position is that the flag should not come into the closing ceremonies with the Russian team," Smith said Saturday at a news conference to announce Canada's flagbearer.
Russian athletes competed in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag and colours because of alleged state-sponsored doping at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, four years ago.
When the International Olympic Committee imposed that punishment and other sanctions, it left the door open to partially or fully lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for the closing ceremonies "provided these decisions are fully respected and implemented by the ROC and by the invited athletes and officials."
The IOC has yet to announce if the Russians will be allowed to march into the ceremonies behind their red, white and blue flag.
"We've certainly expressed our views to the International Olympic Committee (that) they can take into their executive meeting," Smith said.
The rower who won a silver medal in 1984 became an IOC member in 2016.
Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his bronze medal, which was given to the Norwegian team in a special ceremony Saturday night.
Krushelnitsky admitted to having meldonium in his doping samples, although he denied he knowingly ingested it.
Bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, who was 12th, tested positive for an angina medication that affects metabolism and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances.
If the IOC allows the Russians to fly their own flag Sunday, Smith isn't in favour of athletes from other countries boycotting the ceremonies in protest.
"Boycotts don't achieve anything in the world of sport," said Smith, who was denied the chance to compete in the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow because of a boycott.
"For our athletes, it's always completely up to them whether they march in the opening and closing ceremonies.
"Having said that, I don't believe the Olympics should be used for political purposes. I've assured our athletes that the fight against doping is something we take really seriously."
Canadian team chef de mission Isabelle Charest believes athletes should be able to make their own decision whether to participate Sunday without outside influence.
"The athletes are entitled to live the full Olympic experience and we shouldn't be questioning whether they should attend or not," she said.
"Marching in the closing ceremonies are a very special moment for the athletes."
Canadian flag-bearer Kim Boutin, who won a silver and two bronze medals in short-track speedskating, felt the closing ceremonies will be an important part of her first Winter Games experience.
"It's a lot of emotion for us and just being there, enjoy what we did, I feel it's that we need to remember from the Games," she said.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.