Olympic rings in snow


By Duncan Mackay and Nick Butler in Sochi
Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian  

BREAKING: Austrian skier Johannes Duerr tests positive for EPO before Sweden centre and NHL star Nicklas Bäckström fails a test for a substance found in an allergy medication - bringing the total number of athletes to test positive to six (see 09:55, 12:26, 19:22 and 22:19 for more) See article here.

Goodbye until tomorrow...for the final insidethegames blog of Sochi 2014

So most people have now departed the Fisht Stadium and we are as well for the time being. Our report on the Closing Ceremony can be read here

But worry not, the insidethegames blog will return tomorrow for a final flourish as we wrap up Sochi 2014.

See you then!

Closing Ceremony

A mass of athletes still out in the middle of the Stadium as the stands gradually empty. Musical numbers include the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blur... 

The Ceremony is declared over as volunteers and athletes take to the stage as a very techno version of the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" is played. "Lets get this party started," cries the announcer.

Huge numbers of people are now leaving... But we are not quite finished yet.

The Olympic Flame is extinguished - as pictured by Dmitry Chernyshenko ©TwitterThe Olympic Flame is extinguished - as pictured by Dmitry Chernyshenko ©Twitter

Meanwhile, the latest section is a recognition to the new spring - in the Olympic cycle as much as in anything else...

Just to break away from the Ceremony for the briefest of moments, there is a lot of very interesting back lash going on to that doping suspension news regarding Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Bäckström we brought you earlier.

The Swedes are blaming the IOC of "destroying one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history." We will bring you  more on that later on...

It is the polar bear who blows out the Flame - and there was no 'Gangnam Style' earlier for those wondering if they missed it...

Children from the Pan-Russian choir carry small Flames in their hands. This section is a tribute to the Torch Relay - the largest ever version of it which spanned every region of Russia for the four months prior to the Games.

Three mascots take to the stage as we prepare for the Flame to be extinguished. Which mascot will do it? 

A Gayageum - the Korean musical instrument which produced the soundtrack to the Pyeongchang 2018 segment ©Getty ImagesA Gayageum - the Korean musical instrument which produced the soundtrack to the Pyeongchang 2018 segment ©Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach follows. Unsurprisingly he praises the athletes for conforming to the Olympic spirit, aims and ideals.

"You have shared your emotions with us and the whole world, you have celebrated victory with dignity and accepted defeat with dignity," he says. "By living together under one roof in the Olympic Village you send a strong message from Sochi to the world: the message of a society of peace, tolerance and respect.

"I appeal to everybody implicated in confrontation, oppression or violence. Act on this Olympic message of dialogue and peace.

"Tonight we can say: Russia delivered all what it had promised. What took decades in other parts of the world was achieved here in just seven years.

Bach then thanks Vladimir Putin, for his personal commitment to the extraordinary success of these Olympic Winter Games, as well as the Russian Government and other contributors

The volunteers also receive some praise "You, volunteers, with your warm smile made the sun shine for us every day. Your wonderful engagement will create the legacy of a stronger civil society in Russia."

He concludes in traditional vein.

"I declare the 22nd Olympic Winter Games closed. In accordance with tradition, I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in PyeongChang to celebrate with us the 23rd Olympic Winter Games."

Speaking first is Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko. 

"Russia has delivered on its promise, he begins before thankingg athletes, for their honest and dazzling competition. "Your victories inspired people all over the world and you are who made the atmosphere of the Games incredible," he adds.

 "We have proved that we can take on any challenge," he says before praising workers for "effective yet unnoticed" work.

"This is a great moment in our history which will be cherished and past on to the next generations. It will never be forgotten. This is the new face of Russia. For us, these Games are the best ever."

"We did it! We conquered the Olympic summit."

Pyeongchang 2018's segment of the Closing Ceremony ©TwitterPyeongchang 2018's segment of the Closing Ceremony ©Twitter

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Seems crazy as we just finished #sochi2014.... But can't wait for #PyeongChang2018 (after #glasgow2014 #nanjing2014 and #rio2016 ofcourse!)
- The New Zealand Olympic team react to the end of the Games.

The overall theme of this Pyeongchang section is to "dream together towards new horizons."

A different, more Asian, vibe being given. But that is the trick of a Ceremony - to embrace ones own national traits and characteristics. 

The instrument being used, incidentally, is a Gayageum - a traditional Korean zither-like instrument with 12 strings. It represents heaven and earth with the 12 strings symbolising 12 months of the year.

Here we go Pyeongchang - the moment is yours...

But first up is the Olympic champion in fencing 1976 - IOC President Thomas Bach for those whose memory doesn't stretch back to Montreal. The Mayors of Sochi and Pyeongchang exchange the Olympic flag alongside him.

This is the part where London mayor Boris Johnson almost refused to let go during London 2012's handover to Rio...

Olympic Anthem and then it will be Pyeongchang 2018's turn. The question on every-bodies lips - will it be "Gangnam Style?"

Greek national anthem up next - as some very quick maintenance work goes on away from the television glare.

The circus tent took 60 seconds to put up and 20 to take down ©TwitterThe circus tent took 60 seconds to put up and 20 to take down ©Twitter

A lot is going on simultaneously at the moment - so perhaps easier for those in the stadium than those watching on television - there are acrobats, jugglers, dancers, unicycle riders and a lot more...

Fireworks now!

The Magic of Circus is the next section. Lookout for some acrobatics coming up...

Music is the "Suite for Variety Orchestra Waltz No 2" made famous by the film Eyes Wide Shut.

A homage is now being paid to literature - with images of some of Russia's most eminent writers projected...

The names of three of them -Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky - all seem very familiar to anyone who has spend the last three weeks attending press conferences in the Main Press Centre in Sochi as the three venue rooms were named after them.

The two proscenium arches currently being seen represent the Bolshoy - red and gold - and Mariinsky - blue and gold - theatres.

Russia has got very used to gold in the last 15 days...

Is that a smile? Even President Putin is enjoying the spectacle ©Getty ImagesIs that a smile? Even President Putin is enjoying the spectacle ©Getty Images

Next is a tribute to Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concert No 2" played by soloist Denis Matsuev - although another 62 pianists are also present - moving a bit faster than most pianists are used to I imagine.

Perhaps best known as a soundtrack to film Brief Encounter as well.

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@DChernyshenko Congrats Dmitry. Great Games, wonderful volunteers, iconic venues, excellent organization, warm people. Best ever.
- St Lucian IOC member RIchard Peterkin on Twitter.

The upside down village, in case you are wondering, is a tribute to a painting by Russian born artist Marc Chagall - who saw his work as "not the dream of one people but of all humanity" - a message very much shared by the Olympic Movement...

Norway's record Winter Olympic medal winner Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Canadian ice hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser are introduced as new member of the IOC following their election to the IOC Athletes' Commission earlier this week - read our article here - and in a nice touch they honour the volunteers which have been such a success here in Sochi.

insidethegames historian Philip Barker on repetition in the host nation anthem

philip barker21:05
This is the second time the Russian national anthem has been played tonight due to that cross country victory. The same thing happened at Turin 2006 after Giorgio Di Centa won the 50km mass start gold for the host nation.

Alexander Legkov has always been seen as one of the nearly men of Russian sport. Always getting close only for some kind of mishap or near-miss. But rather like rower Katherine Grainger at London 2012, it all came good when it mattered.

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liked tongue in cheek reference to#Olympics #ringfail Not sure about some music choices though- not exactly Underworld!
- insidethegames
reader Tim Shewan gives us his thoughts on the Closing Ceremony

Two marathon cross-country races, two clean-sweeps. First up it's Norway led by six time gold medal winner Marit Bjoergen. This part of the Closing Ceremony at London 2012 was particularly memorable because the ever-smiling Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda was honoured...

I think the cheers are going to get louder. Next up is the victory Ceremony for the two mass start marathon cross country races. Now who won the medals in todays men's I wonder? Scroll down to 12:50 today if you cannot guess...

Olympians snake their way around the Stadium in the parade of athletes ©Getty ImagesOlympians snake their way around the Stadium in the parade of athletes
©Getty Images

Next song is Blur's "Song 2" which is greeted by a burst of energy from those carrying the national flags as they jump up and down and wave the flags with extra vigour...

Silence as the Russian team come out. That is a joke of course - the noise is deafening...

The songs we are looking out for tonight are "We are the Champions" by Queen - which has been a real feature of Sochi 2014 - and "Gangnam Style." But we will wait until the Pyeongchang 2018 segment for that one...

 Now "One More Time" by Daft Punk - whose song "Get Lucky" proved one of the hits at the Opening Ceremony when it was sung by the Russian Police Choir. 

Among tunes being played is "Gotta Go Home" by Boney M as the athletes parade.

The athletes are arriving as they snake their way through a funnel of traditionally clad Russians. An impressive back-flip by a member of the Great Britain team is pulled off right in front of the media stand...

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"Is it in Thomas Bach's contract that we always have to be told he was 'Olympic Fencing Champion, 1976'? I don't recall this happening for other such dignitaries"
- BBC Television athletics statistician Mark Butler is not impressed by the sporting credentials of the IOC President

20:35 A
military choir perform a drum ensemble - perhaps to mark the fact today is Defender of the Fatherland Day - an annual state holiday in honour of the Russian military.

A brilliant tongue in cheek gesture to emulate the technical glitch of the Opening Ceremony ©Getty ImagesA brilliant tongue in cheek gesture to emulate the technical glitch of the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

The Russian National Anthem is being sung by 1,000 children from the Pan-Russian choir. Part of the Closing Ceremony theme of youth, learning and education, I presume...

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#closingceremony Main topic - "Reflections of Russia" dedicated to the Russian culture.
Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko tweets his commentary on the Closing Ceremony

Here comes President Putin and IOC President Thomas Bach.

Again, it took a nudge from a colleague in the direction of the television screens for me to notice as the image was rather lost in the Stadium, but a brilliant gesture to show only four Rings. Sochi 2014 has demonstrated a humour from the Russian people which much of the world maybe wasn't aware of before these Games. There is even some applause in the press box...

The music currently being played - It's a wonderful Life by Dimitri Tomkin - was composed in 1946. Tomkin went on to compose music for more than 100 films  and won four Academy Awards including for the 1952 classic High Noon.

A rowing boat glides through air - I presume as if it looks like it is navigating the sea on television. We don't really get that in the stadium but it is still a fantastic visual.

It is meant to represent a "magical journey into Russian culture" and this is what we are going to get tonight - a focus more on culture and arts from the history of the Opening Ceremony.

And we are underway in the Closing Ceremony (I will ignore the fact my computer clock read 20:15...)

The Olympic Park pictured from above ahead of the Closing CeremonyThe Olympic Park pictured from above ahead of the Closing Ceremony ©Twitter

Ten minutes to go until the live broadcast begins, is announced - and this provides the ever-growing crowd with a chance to break into applause together with bouts of flag-waving and chants of Ru-Si-Ya. 

A bit of a lull now between the pre-show and the real thing but, as has become the norm at these kind of events, the crowd burst into a Mexican Wave. The Olympians are all willing participants - in fact they may have even started - but there is not much of a reaction from the media benches...

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Okay guys, I'm ready for the Closing Ceremony, rehearsals are over ;-) Make sure you see #IOCAC at #Sochi2014 tonight 
IOC Athletes' Commission chair Claudia Bokel tweets earlier on today

Claudia Bokel at the Closing Ceremony ©TwitterClaudia Bokel at the Closing Ceremony earlier on this evening ©Twitter

Right - we are going to return our focus to the Closing Ceremony now following that latest piece of doping news. The pre-show is now very much underway.

We have just a rendition of certainly the loudest rock song - or heavy metal would be a more appropriate label maybe? - of a song called Moscow Calling.

Then we have the return of the flashing lights to encourage some pre-Ceremong audience participation...

A cheer goes up every time a group of Olympians take their seats although the athletes section - behind the flags in this picture - remains a little sparse at this stage.

Pre-show entertainment at the Closing Ceremony ©ITGPre-show entertainment at the Closing Ceremony ©ITG

The stadium begins to fill up ahead of the Closing Ceremony ©ITGThe stadium begins to fill up ahead of the Closing Ceremony ©ITG

Sixth failed drugs test of Sochi 2014

Bäckström has been part of the Sweden squad ever since 2006 and won a World Championship gold medal that year before featuring in their Olympic squad four years later at Vancouver 2010. He has also enjoyed a stellar career in the National Hockey League (NHL) where he is an alternate centre of the Washington Capitals.

Nicklas Backstrom has recorded the sixth positive drugs test of Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesNicklas Bäckström has recorded the sixth positive drugs test of Sochi 2014
©Getty Images

News is just coming through that Sweden centre Nicklas Bäckström has failed a doping test during Sochi 2014, testing positive for a substance found in an allergy medication, and was banned from participating this afternoon's gold medal match against Canada.

Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Bjorn Folin said the banned substance was in an allergy medication that Bäckström has taken for the past seven years.

"It was a shocking message to get," goalie Jhonas Enroth told the Swedish news agency TT after the final. "We found out two hours before the match."

Read our developing story here.

Closing Ceremony

A more relaxed vibe inside the stadium than 16 days ago as the stadium takes longer to fill up - although still a while let until 20:14 when once again we get underway.

We were promised this morning that the Ceremony will be "imbued with an optimistic wistfulness" as we celebrate the passing of Sochi as the centre of the world. 

It seems a long time since the Opening Ceremony - and we have a full compliment of two Sochi based insidethegames staff inside the Fisht Stadium this evening...

insidethegames team in the Olympic Stadium ©ITGinsidethegames team in the Olympic Stadium ©ITG

Save for the few days in the middle of the Games when fog rather took over, Sochi 2014 has been a Games distinguishable for the sunny and at time warm weather. 

It is no different in the Olympic Park this afternoon - with the distant mountains of Krasnaya Polyana billowing beautifully in the breeze. 

Final medal tally

As you can see that result leaves Canada in third place on the medals table. But although there bitterly sought the ice hockey title, after taking the two other gold medals on offer today, Russia lead the way both in terms of total and number of gold medals won.

And, after leading the way for much of the Games, Germany slump to finish only in sixth place.
Russia top the final medals table of the Winter Olympics ©ITG

Canada win the final gold medal of Sochi 2014

The result also means that Canada won all four golds available in team sports in Sochi - men and women's curling and men and women's ice hockey - with Sweden the side dispatched in the final on two of those occasions. 

Canada players celebrate after beating Sweden to secure a historic title defence ©Getty ImagesCanada players celebrate after beating Sweden to secure a historic title defence ©Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal18:19
Canada win the final gold medal of Sochi 2014 and become the first team to defend an Olympic men's ice hockey title since the Soviet Union in 1988.

It was a hard match to call beforehand but Canada were simply too good, in both defence and attack, for the Swedes.

It has been a defensive masterclass from Canada this afternoon as they have blocked out every Swedish hope before clinically taking their chances when they have been presented.

Surely that is it as Chris Kunitz weaves his way through the Swedish defence before blasting the puck home. 3-0 to Canada.

Just over a quarter of an hour left of sporting action at Sochi 2014. It remains 2-0 to Canada and, while we cannot discount Sweden for certain just yet, if they are going to get anything out of this game - they will have to do it soon.

More on Closing Ceremony flagbearers

Maxim Trankov will carry the Russian flag after two gold medals at Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesMaxim Trankov will carry the Russian flag after two gold medals at Sochi 2014
©Getty Images

Incidentally it is Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia and various ex-Soviet countries today - a state holiday to recognise the armed forces. 

Teenage snowboarder with Russian mother to carry Ireland flag

17:38 Teenage Seamus O'Connor snowboarder has been selectied as the Irish flag bearer for Sunday's Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.

American-born O'Connor, who has an English father a Russian mother and Irish grandparents from Dublin and Drogheda, will lead Team Ireland into the Olympic Stadium for the ceremony.

Irish team Chef de Mission Stephen Martin said "Seamus was one of only three snowboarders to compete in both the slope-style and half pipe disciplines, and had the best Team Ireland results in Sochi.

"At 16 years of age he finished 15th and 17th in his first Olympic Games. He can develop into a star performer over the next four years at World Cup and Olympic competition.

"Through his performances and support of other team members he has earned the right to carry the flag of his country and lead Team Ireland at the closing ceremony."

O'Connor, from San Diego, said: "When I received the flag bearer news I was beyond honoured. These Olympics have given me several life changing moments and this is indeed another! I could not be more proud."

17:30 End of the second period and Canada still hold a 2-0 lead. 

17:22 A Canadian breakaway and a superbly taken second goal by Sidney Crosby! He scores for a second Olympic final in a row and seems set to win a second consecutive gold medal. 

17:14 Still 1-0 to Canada deep into the second period. Canadians pressing hard for a second but whenever Sweden are only one behind there remains all to play for...

16:50 About to star the second period in the ice hockey as Canada hold a slender 1-0 advantage.

Jonathan Toews celebrates after opening the scoring in the gold medal match ©Getty ImagesJonathan Toews celebrates after opening the scoring in the gold medal match
©Getty Images

Message of support from Ugur Erdener to Ukraine

16:44 A nice message of support from World Archery President Ugur Erdener, also President of the Turkish NOC, regarding support for the Athletes and Officials from Ukraine at Sochi 2014.

"On behalf of the NOC of Turkey and all involved in sport in Turkey, we would like extend our support and solidarity with the athletes and officials from Ukraine who have participated at Sochi 2014 with courage and determination whilst the current tragic events in Ukraine have unfolded.  

"They have inspired the world by showing that sport can and should transcend politics and can provide hope and potential unity to a nation. We all passionately hope their successes will provide continued momentum to the peace process."

The Ukrainian flag will be carried, unsurprisingly by biathlon gold and bronze medal winner Vita Semerenko.

Flagbearers for Closing Ceremony

16:34 We have already brought you some of the flag bearers for tonight's Closing Ceremony but we now have the full list. 

Most of the names are fairly obvious -, Darya Domracheva for Belarus, Ole Einar Bjoernadalen for Norway, Charlotte Kalla for Sweden. 

Figure skater Maxim Trankov will carry the Russian flag while the Indian one will be carried by Himanshu Thakur.

16:29 Canada take the lead and it is Jonathan Toews who makes the breakthrough.with his first strike of the Games.

16:23 It may be lacking the extra something that a Russian presence would have provided - but there remains a fantastic atmosphere in the Bolshoy Ice Dome as the reigning world champions Sweden take on defending Olympic champions Canada.

15:58 Speaking of the one gold medal to come - action will begin very soon in the Bolshoy Arena between Sweden and Canada in the men's ice hockey final.

We are going to focus on that - as well as building towards this evening's Closing Ceremony. 

15:51 That result confirms what we already knew. With just one gold medal to come Russia are now guaranteed to finish top of the medals table  - both in terms of gold and total medals won.

Alexander Zubkov celebrates his second gold medal of the Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesAlexander Zubkov celebrates his second gold medal of the Games ©AFP/Getty Images

Sochi 2014 gold medal15:44 It simply had to be! Russia win the gold medal! A second gold for driver Alexander Zubkov as they clock a time of 55.39 seconds to hold on by just 0.09 seconds to finish ahead of Latvia and the United States. 

US take the lead and then Latvia. Just Russia-1 to come...

Russian Prime Minsiter Dmitry Medvedev at the bobsleigh ©Getty ImagesWe are yet to spot the President but Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is present at the bobsleigh as Russia chase a final gold medal ©Getty Images

15:37 Germany-1 are not as quick and go into second place but then Russia-2 take the lead after a very strong second half of the run.

15:33 Could Great Britain have done just that. A superb 55.26 for the final run by John Jackson's team and that is the target for the five remaining teams.

15:31 Into the final six pairs and Germany-3 currently lead. A good performance by any of the next three could see them sneak onto the podium.

15:03 Another hour until the concluding event of Sochi 2014 - the men's ice hockey final. But in the meantime we have the fourth and final run of the four man bobsleigh to enjoy. Teams going in reverse order of course so we will have a little wait yet for the conclusion.

Russia lead Latvia by the narrowest of margins in the battle for gold - while Germany are in third but with a chasing pack hot in pursuit. 

IOC President Thomas Bach press conference

Final question now and Bach is explaining how an Olympic Games is successful if it adopts its own identity and then IOC spokesman Mark Adams concludes in the traditional way: "the President will be attending the Closing Ceremony tonight" he quips.

Bach then asks the mass of media if they have any tips with regards to his speech?

Interesting questions on whether Bach was surprised by the warm receptions he personally received when attending events. He explains how he has known about warm Russian hospitality ever since his fencing days, so was not surprised. 

Does Sochi 2014 being "Putin's Games" damage the reputation of the IOC? Bach responds by explaining how political leadership will always benefit from successful sporting events - look at Germany during the 2006 World Cup - Mr Putin and the whole Russian Government has played an important role in the whole Games and without that role, we would be sitting here now in a very different mood. Mr Putin always respected the Olympic Charter here during the Games. 

Bach is now defending the expense of Sochi 2014. It was a project to demonstrate improvement in winter sports but also to transform a whole region, he says.

Next it is security and gay rights concerns. The Games are not about political protests, says Bach. but about mutual respect. They are a way to show that people from all backgrounds can come and compete together. 

Bach now asked about Russian athletes changing nationality and criticism of the figure skating judging. He explains the many reason for athletes changing nationality and insists the IOC will keep notice of it  - before proclaiming that the skating judging is fair.

Doping is next on the agenda. What is important is that the system works, Bach says. When you look at the substances taken - mainly stimulants in low amounts - it shows the advances we have made and that the IOC is serious in their zero-tolerance approach.

I cannot comment on individual cases, he says in response to Johnnnes Duerr reportedly being caught in Austria in a training camp ahead of travelling to Sochi, but if true, it again shows the progress we are making.

First question is on the success of Russia on the medals table. "A home team performing well is always good for the Games." The progress they have made is remarkable.

Volunteers are next to receive praise - "they gave you smiles but also the correct information," he says.

Bach speaks about the record number of participants and NOC's - 88 now after India's re-inclusion. We also have record numbers of doping tests - and hove exceeded our target of 57 per cent of improvement on Vancouver 2010. High quality target-testing as well as more quantity, it is added.

Success with regards to television coverage and Olympic scholarships is also hailed.

"We are close to the end of a great Winter Games," says Thomas Bach in his opening remarks. "I had the opportunity to spend four night's in Olympic Villages and meet athletes - there was not a single complaint from anybody."

"What impressed them most was the proximity of Olympic Villages and venues."

 A highlights video of the entire Games to open proceedings today. Complete with a very atmospheric drum roll...

CAS dismiss appeal against French ski-cross medal winners 

13:55 The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeals of Canada and Slovenia to have the three French men's ski cross medallists disqualified for wearing modified race suits.

An overnight hearing held by the CAS ad-hoc division dismissed the protests filed against the outfits worn by Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolena and Jonathan Midol - respective winners of the gold, silver and bronze medals.

The first application to CAS came from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA) and Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the second from the Slovenian Olympic Committee (SOC).

Each had made official protests to the International Ski Federation (FIS) about the legs of the ski suits worn by the French skiers.

The CFSA, COC and SOC alleged that the French athletes changed their attire just before the big final to gain an aerodynamic effect created by the shaping of the lower section of the ski pants, contrary to the International Freestyle Skiing competition rules.

However, FIS ruled that the protests could not be entertained because they were not "filed on time after the race".

13:46 Latvia are just 0.04 seconds behind as Germany fall to third place. 

13:35 And there could be more to come - Russia have crossed the line in 55.02 seconds to post a total time of 2:45.21.

13:26 With that news Russian have increased their lead at the top of the medals table

Legkov leads cross-country clean sweep for Russia

Russia celebrate after a clean sweep of the podium ©Getty ImagesRussia celebrate after a clean sweep of the podium ©Getty Images

12:50 Sochi 2014 gold medalAlexander Legkov wins the 50km mass-start gold medal in a Russian 1-2-3! Quite possibly the loudest reaction of the Games so far in the press room as he pulled away from Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov on the final straight.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway was fourth, one second behind the winner, as a photo finish was required to separate silver and bronze.

A group of four has broken clear - and three of them are Russian!

12:43 Now Daniel Richardsson of Sweden now leads but there is a group - including several Russian athletes - grouping behind. The atmosphere is really building now...

12:38 Getting to the business end of the skiing now. The pack is back together with Sweden's Anders Soedergren in the lead. 

Positive test for Austrian Duerr

12:26 A bit more reaction to that positive earlier - the fifth of the Games but the first for a product such as EPO and the first where there has been no attempt to blame the drug use of a contaminated supplement. 

Austria Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss says "we are shocked by this announcement and took the appropriate measures right away" - adding that the athlete has been dropped from the team and sent home.

Johannes Duerr has also told Austrian television:  "I cannot make up for this but I want to apologize because this is the worst thing I've done in my life."

The 26-year-old enjoyed arguably the best result of his career to come eighth in the skiathlon on his Olympic debut last week - after a best of 15th in the event as World Championship level. He has now been stripped of that result.

12:10 Michail Semenov of Belarus has opened up a bit of day light here after 30km of the cross country. But, rather like a marathon race you feel like gaps could be closed more easily than over shorter distances - as pace judgement is so important. 

11:56 The men's cross country has been going for over 50 minutes but they are only halfway. A gruelling race but also a great spectacle in lovely conditions up at the Laura cross country centre. Lari Lehtonen of Finland leads the pack through 25km but a lot of skiing left. 

CAS decision on men's ski-cross expected this afternoon

11:42 The Canada Freestyle Ski Association and the Canadian and Slovenian Olympic Committees are seeking the disqualification of French medallists Jean Frederic Chapuis - gold, Arnaud Bovolenta - silver and Jonathan Midol - bronze, from the men's ski cross held on Thursday 20 February.

It is alleged that, shortly before the big final, French support staff changed the shaping of the lower leg suits of their skiers, creating an unfair aerodynamic advantage.

The Court of the Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is expected to announce the decision by 14:00 on Sunday 23 February.

Both Canada and Slovenia had earlier protested the result to FIS, which ruled the protests had not been filed on time.

Closing Ceremony preview 

Konstantin Ernst wearing the five, or rather four, Olympic rings tee shirt ©Andy Miah/InstagramKonstantin Ernst wearing the five, or rather four, Olympic Rings tee shirt
©Andy Miah/Instagram

11:25 Unsurprisingly no much has been given away in terms of what will be in this evening's Ceremony. 

Ernst says: "The Closing Ceremony should be different in tone from the Opening one. The Opening Ceremony triggered 17 days of intensive sport, The Closing Ceremony is different and should be imbued with an optimistic wistfulness

"Because it is the end of the Games and the moment when your Games becomes history. For 17 days Sochi has been at the centre of the universe but now it is time to say goodbye."

11:15 There was a wonderful moment when creative director Konstantin Ernst walked into the press conference this morning - wearing the tee-shirt with the four Olympic Rings. A wonderful example of the humour which has permeated Sochi 2014.

11:10 We are also underway in this mornings press briefing - albeit one with a difference this morning as it is Closing Ceremony themed. There will be another with IOC President Thomas Bach this afternoon. 

Athletes on the startline for the men's 50km mass start cross country ©AFP/Getty ImagesAthletes on the startline for the men's 50km mass start cross country ©AFP/Getty Images

Humphries and Moyse to carry Canadian flag at Closing Ceremony

10:56 Bobsleigh gold medal winners Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse have been selected as Canada's flag bearers for the Closing Ceremony of Sochi 2014 this afternoon, the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced. 

"This has been such a great Games for Canada and leading the team into the Closing Ceremony is the cherry on top of a fantastic couple of weeks. I am so honoured,ˮ said Kaillie Humphries.

Moyse added: "This is such an amazing privilege. I will carry the flag with the upmost pride and patriotism, on behalf of all Canadians.ˮ

The pair defended the title they won at Vancouver 2010 after overhauling the Americans in the final run. They also won gold together at both the 2012 and 2013 World Championships. 

Australia press conference

10:49 Australia have won two silver, for snowboarder Torah Bright and aerials freestyle skier David Morris, as well as another aerials medal - bronze for Lydia Lassila. 

10:40 We also have another hefty dose of closing press briefings. First up is Australian Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman.

Quote graphicI don't think so. We would obviously have liked a gold medal, but we know how hard they are to get. We can walk away from here with our heads held very high, knowing we have three medals, plus what I believe is an incredibly strong performance by 27 top-16 results. The ultimate goal is to get a gold medal, but we came here to show that we have depth across the team and that we can continue to achieve at the highest level."
Ian Chesterman answering the question of whether Australia not winning a gold medal made the Games a failure?

10:24 It will be minus Johannes Duerr but the first sporting action of the day will get underway in just over half an hours time and it will be the gruelling men's 50km mass start cross-country.

We will then have to wait until 13:30 for the third run of the bobsleigh - with the fourth to follow soon after - before the ice hockey gold medal match at 16:00.

Austrian cross country skier records fifth positive test of Sochi 2014 -  for EPO.

So we have now seen athletes fail tests from five European countries - Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia and Austria - and from four sports. Cross country, bobsleigh and ice hockey have all recorded one failed test while biathlon has produced two.

Read our articles on previous failed tests here and here.

Johnannes Duerr, pictured finishing a race in January, has recorded the latest positive test of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesJohannes Duerr, pictured finishing a race in January, has recorded the latest positive test of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

Some more positive drugs news to report also this morning. It has just been announced that Austrian cross country athlete Johannes Duerr has been withdrawn from Sunday's 50km mass start free competition and suspended from the Games after testing positive for EPO in a pre-competition doping control test last week.

Duerr, who finished eighth in the men's skiathlon on February 9, was due to be one of the seeded starters in the final cross country event at Sochi 2014 on Sunday.

An official communication from the International Ski Federation's technical delegate on Sunday morning confirmed Duerr's withdrawal, saying: "The IOC disciplinary commission decided on February 22 that he is suspended from competing in the men's 50km mass start free".

The Austrian becomes the fifth athlete to fail a drugs test during Sochi 2014 - all of which have been revealed over the last three days. 

09:20 Today we have a final flurry of sporting events - including the final two runs of the four man bobsleigh and the men's ice hockey final between Canada and Sweden.

After that, of course, we have the Closing Ceremony of Sochi 2014.

09:00 Good morning and welcome to Sochi 2014 for the final day of the Olympic Games.