U.S. officials, local athletes react to IOC banning the Russian Federation from the 2018 Olympics

SALT LAKE CITY — Alpine bobsledder Chris Fogt realized that he’d earned an Olympic medal on the last day of the Olympics in February 2014 when he saw the reaction of his teammates waiting in the finish area of the Sanki Sliding Center in Russia.

“Nothing can describe that feeling of finishing, that moment of coming up the braking stretch (of track) and seeing your teammates jumping up and down,” he said. “That feeling of elation that all that hard work paid off, it’s indescribable.”

Colorado skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender learned that she was a bronze medalist while training in Canada, nearly four years after leaving that same finish area heartbroken and in disbelief.

“To wake up in the morning and hear that I was a bronze medalist was surreal,” she told the Deseret News a few days after learning that the Russian who edged her off the podium by four-hundredths of a second had been disqualified for doping. “Everyone kept hugging me. … Honestly, I just started crying.”

Russia’s elaborate effort to administer performance-enhancing drugs to many of its athletes before and during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, stole Uhlaender’s Olympic moment.

But, on Tuesday, a decision by the International Olympic Committee to ban the Russian Federation from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics restored her faith in the system that’s supposed to ensure fairness for all athletes.

“The IOC has kind of restored my faith in the system,” she told the Deseret News a few days after learning about her bronze medal. “It makes me feel like I’m not alone anymore. … I think it’s a huge step in the right direction.”

While some might feel that the IOC’s action, which allows individual athletes from Russia to go through a process of drug testing that may allow them to compete as independent athletes, is too little, too late, U.S. athletes like Uhlaender and Fogt are grateful for all of the actions taken by the IOC the past month.

“It means something to the entire world,” Uhlaender said. “I feel inspired to know that my fellow competitors and I are going into Korea with cleaner competition.”

Fogt was surprised but pleased with Tuesday’s announcement.

“I think it’s a great move by the IOC to crack down on cheating,” he said in a text conversation with the Deseret News a few…

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