In a possible roadblock in Russia’s efforts to come out of a drug cheating scandal, a Russian medalist at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is suspected of having tested positive for a banned substance.
Alexander Krushelnitsky, a bronze-medalist and his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova are suspected of having tested positive for meldonium, a substance that increases blood flow which enhances exercise capacity in athletes.
A spokesman for the Russian delegation at Pyeongchang said he had no immediate comment to make on the matter but a source said that Russian sports officials will meet the anti-doping officers at Pyeongchang and that any violations would be confirmed after analysis of a “B” sample.
The duo is participating in the mixed-doubles curling game at the Winter Olympics and have won a bronze medal in a game against Norway, which could be taken away if the violations were to be confirmed.
This is not the first time Russia has come under the scanner in an incident like this. The country has been surrounded by allegations of running a state-backed doping program for years and as a result, the Russian athletes are competing as neutral “Olympic Athletes from Russia” (OAR) at Pyeongchang.
The International Olympic Committee said if confirmed, the case would be studied by its OAR Implementation panel.
“On the one hand it is extremely disappointing when prohibited substances might have been used, but on the other hand it shows the effectiveness of the anti-doping system at the Games which protects the rights of all the clean athletes,” an IOC spokesperson said.
As neutral athletes, the Russians cannot have their anthem played in medal ceremonies or use national symbols. The IOC has said it may allow the Russians to march with the Russian flag and in national uniform at the closing ceremony if they are found to have adhered to its code of conduct on neutrality that includes the anti-doping rules.