The Russians are coming…Soon.
The International Olympic Committee (OC) decision in December was clear. They wanted Russia back as soon as possible and a line drawn under the doping saga.
The two drugs cases at Pyeongchang 2018 delayed the process, if only for a couple of days or weeks. In truth, a Russian re-emergence at the Closing Ceremony always seemed like a strange fascination for the IOC.
Other than getting Russia back on side, there was very little to gain for the IOC in rushing them back.
It would have been akin to have pulling a drug addict out of rehab before the full cycle of treatment had been administered
Rather than focusing on the efforts of Pyeongchang 2018 or the performances of athletes over the past couple of weeks, the IOC ended up polarising everyone’s focus toward the issue of Russia once more.
Pyeongchang 2018 should feel somewhat aggrieved that the build-up to both of their Ceremonies have been dominated by Russia, with almost every question at the IOC President’s press conferences having been about a country - it is claimed - have not been present at these Games.
In this sense, you can see why the IOC are so insistent on having the Russian Olympic Committee return to the fold.
The build-up and duration of the last three Olympics have been dominated by Russia, from the country’s hosting at Sochi 2014, to the fallout spread across Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018.
It is perfectly understandable that the IOC want to avoid this scenario repeating itself as attention shifts towards Tokyo 2020.
They could not have been clearer about this.
Quotes attributed to the IOC President on the December 5 decision stated, "This should draw a line under this damaging episode and serve as a catalyst for a more effective anti-doping system led by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)".
The idea of drawing a line under the saga was repeatedly mentioned during the IOC Session in Pyeongchang earlier today.
Nicole Hoevertsz, chair of the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) Implementation Group, was among those to express this sentiment.
"I believe that we should draw a line," she said. "We have to draw a line and look towards the future. We need to bring this story to an end and look forward. It is never going to be business as usual in sport again or in Russia."
The last line of this is clearer more interesting than the rather standard first.
What kind of Russia are going to be welcomed back? And will they even be welcomed back?
The OAR Implementation Group stressed that the delegation at Pyeongchang 2018 had followed the "letter and spirit" of the rules.
Among these aspects where that the OAR athletes behaviour was considered "exemplary" and that they were "nothing but smiles" as they matched during the Opening Ceremony. No violations of the kit protocol were uncovered.
With the greatest of respect, the behaviour of the OAR delegation for two weeks at the Games offers us about as much insight into a culture change in Russia, as a January gym membership reflects someone’s desire to change an inactive lifestyle.
Given the OAR had the chance to get their flag back for the Closing Ceremony, it should come as no surprise that they did not breach the spirit of the conditions, which were essentially a good behaviour clause.
The OAR ice hockey team sang the Russian national anthem after clinching gold reflected this, given they knew the Russian flag was not returning.
It is obvious that Russian culture change would not become clear overnight and will instead need to be assessed over months and years. The compliance of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency with WADA would be a good start.
The comments of Tricia Smith and Barry Maister made a great deal of sense, the two IOC members suggesting that further evidence of progress in Russia should be required before they fully embraced.
The former suggested a between Russia, WADA and the IOC be formed to identify and address issues, for education and testing of athletes and coaches, and a follow-up which is "clear" to the "sports community and to athletes of the world".
I would argue this would be positive, rather than a negative for Russia, should this be followed.
You only had to see the reaction to the two failed tests from the OAR athletes at Pyeongchang 2018 to know the uphill battle the country faces.
Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii had claimed his positive test for meldonium had been due to his drink being spiked during a training camp in Japan before the team left for Pyeongchang.
The reaction was one of ridicule. Given the stain the doping scandal had cast upon Russia and the near year-long spate of failures for meldonium, it was a case of more of the same. Denials and claims of innocence.
The country who cried wolf.
Krushelnitckii may have been correct in his assertion. He may have been the victim of a total injustice.
He will surely go down as one of the first a supposed new generation of Russian athletes who will not be trusted by their peers and the public.
During the Winter Olympics, Gunilla Lindberg bemoaned reports of athletes snubbing and deliberately avoiding members of the OAR delegation, claiming it was not in the Olympic spirt.
This should not have been a surprise and if anything, it could be something we could be getting used to.
The erosion of confidence in Russia remains and its legacy will no doubt continue in the coming years, at a detriment to the upcoming athletes the country has. These athletes will be among the victims of the toxic legacy of the scandal.
Russia, it is clear, are not the only ones who suffer from this.
The reputation of cycling has taken some years to patch up since the Armstrong era. Even now, the sport is faced with an issue with its major name Chris Froome. In that case, the erosion of confidence in Team Sky has proven detrimental to Froome’s claims of innocence.
Given comments made by Grigory Rodchenkov to the BBC, that "many countries and many national anti-doping organisations are not interested at all to catch leading athletes in their countries", there has to be a wariness that even when Russia return, it is not the end of the saga.
Maybe it would be the end a major chapter in the fight against doping, but there are clearly a number left to be written in the next few years.