The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has lifted the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after determining that no further Russian athletes tested positive for doping at the just-concluded Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The IOC on February 28 said that all of the final doping tests by the Doping-Free Sport Unit (DFSU) on Russian athletes at the Pyeongchang games “are negative.”
“Therefore…the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee is automatically lifted with immediate effect," it said.
The statement confirmed remarks made earlier in the day by the head of the ROC, Aleksandr Zhukov, who said the ROC had “received a letter from the IOC about the restoration [of membership]."
"The restoration of the Russian Olympic Committee was connected to the completion of checks of doping tests from the Olympics in Pyeongchang," Zhukov told the state-run TASS news agency.
He added that the IOC had confirmed that “all remaining results are negative, meaning that the Russian Olympic Committee’s rights have been completely restored."
President Vladimir Putin, in a ceremony honoring the country’s Olympic medalists, spoke in general terms about the lifting of the ban, saying, "It seems to me that this is a page we should turn and draw relevant conclusions for ourselves."
He was quoted by TASS as saying the government would continue to cooperate with international agencies “so that the anti-doping system will acquire unified rules and will eventually become more comprehensible and absolutely transparent."
The ROC’s membership in the IOC was suspended and Russia was banned from participating in the Pyeongchang games as a team over what the IOC described as a state-run, systemic doping program at the Winter Olympics organized by Russia in Sochi in 2014.
The IOC subsequently invited 169 carefully screened Russian athletes to compete as independents in Pyeongchang under the Olympic Athletes From Russia (OAR) designation.
Russian officials and others had expressed hopes that the ban could be lifted before the closing ceremonies. However, two Russian athletes tested positive at Pyeongchang, leading the IOC to keep the suspension in place.
IOC President Thomas Bach said that Russia's Olympic status could be reinstated only after it was confirmed that Russians had committed no further doping violations at the Pyeongchang games, which concluded on February 25.
Officials said it would take at least a few days after the Olympics to get final results from doping tests.
The ROC also paid a fine of $15 million as part of its efforts to have the Olympic ban lifted, although Russian officials have repeatedly denied state involvement in doping.
Russians were also barred from competing as a team at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, although some 280 athletes were allowed to participate as "neutrals."
A key figure in the saga is whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia's anti-doping laboratory.
He organized the Russian system of doping before fleeing to the United States in 2016 and providing evidence of it to investigators from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the IOC.
WADA has still not fully reinstated the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which was suspended in 2015 amid doping allegations.
WADA's Foundation Board in November approved the recommendation of its Compliance Review Committee not to reinstate RUSADA, although it partially lifted the ban against the Russian organization, citing progress it had made and allowing it again to collect samples for testing.