By STEPHEN WADE , AP Sports Writer
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has upheld its ban of Russia from the Pyeongchang Olympics, denying the country the chance to march into the closing ceremony under its own flag.
The vote came Sunday just hours before the closing ceremony.
Russia was banned from these Winter Games after a massive doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but the IOC had left open the possibility of reinstatement before the start of the closing ceremony.
However, two of the more than 160 athletes competing as Olympic Athletes from Russia tested positive for banned substances, including a curler who had to forfeit his bronze medal. That's half of the four doping cases reported so far at this year's Olympics.
The positive tests come after the IOC had said Russian athletes had been "rigorously tested" months before the games — and during them.
IOC President Thomas Bach said a condition for Russia's reinstatement is no further positive drug tests at these Olympics. Two of the four athletes who tested positive in Pyeongchang were Russian, including a curler who had to return his bronze medal.
"The IOC executive board decided first not to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee for the closing ceremony," Bach said, "therefore, no delegation of the Russian Olympic Committee will have taken part in these Olympic Winter Games."
Russia was banned from the Olympics on Dec. 5 because of a massive doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Games. The IOC left open the possibility of reinstatement ahead of the closing ceremony if the Russians met a series of criteria, and Russian athletes were allowed to participate under the Olympic flag.
IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz from Aruba and head of the Russia implementation group said the Russian delegation met many of the criteria required for reinstatement during the Olympics.
The two failed drug tests, however, were too much.
"Despite a good collaboration from the OAR delegation to respond to these (doping) cases in a prompt and transparent way, the implementation group was convinced that these cases caused significant concern," Hoevertsz said.