Winter Olympics: Anti-doping case opened against Russian curler | News | DW | 19.02.2018
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Winter Olympics: Anti-doping case opened against Russian curler

The CAS has initiated a doping procedure for Russian curler and medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky. The allegations have rocked the Winter Olympics, with some Russian sports officials suspecting foul play.

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Russian curler Krushelnitsky hit by doping case

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) opened an anti-doping case against Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, according to a statement released Monday.

Krushelnitsky, who won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova in the mixed doubles, tested positive for a banned substance at the Games, Russian curlers said after their coach informed them of the case late Sunday.

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The athlete's "A Sample" tested positive for trace amounts of meldonium, a substance that has been banned since 2016, Russian media reported. A number of Russian athletes took the drug, originally a heart medication, before it was banned.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said if a Russian athlete's failed doping test is confirmed, it could keep Russia's banned team from being reinstated and marching under the country's flag at the closing ceremony in Pyeongchang.

"If confirmed, this will be taken into account [by the implementation panel] along with many, many other factors. There are several ifs along the way before we get there," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

Krushelnitsky's case is the second one to occur at the Pyeongchang Olympics after Japanese short-track speedskater Kai Saito tested positive for a banned diuretic.

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Curlers Alexander Krushelnitsky and Anastasia Bryzgalova (Getty Images/D. Istitene)

Krushelnitsky won a bronze medal with his wife in the mixed doubles

'Alexander is not a stupid man'

The latest doping allegations rocked the Pyeongchang Olympics, with fellow Russian curlers and sports officials expressing shock and disbelief.

Women's curling team member Viktoria Moiseeva said the issue "came upon us like a storm. We never thought it would happen in curling. All of us hope that the B-test is negative."

Sergei Belanov, the women's curling coach for the Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR), defended Krushelnitsky by saying meldonium provides no benefits for the sport.

"No benefits. No advantage," said Belonov. "And I don't believe a young man chooses risk or will use the same drug that has been around for two years. It's stupid and Alexander is not a stupid man."

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Russian Curling Federation president Dmitry Svishchev told the Associated Press that it was possible an athlete's food or drink could have been spiked shortly before the Games, suggesting that a rival Russian athlete or someone who was politically motivated could have carried it out.

"It can't happen at the Olympic Village because everyone eats the same canteen food," he said. "It could happen at training camp or in the intervening period ... There's a possibility of it being something within the team, that something happened during training camp, or as a political means to achieve some goal."

Russia was banned from participating at the Pyeongchang Olympics in December following an investigation into state-sponsored doping. However, certain clean athletes were allowed to take part representing the OAR, wearing neutral uniforms and without the Russian flag.

The IOC previously said it would lift the ban at the end of the Games, allowing the athletes to display the Russian flag at the closing ceremony. The results of Krushelnitsky's test could upend these plans.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova received a 15-month suspension after testing positive for meldonium in 2016.

rs/ng (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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