Russian athlete fails Winter Games doping test

Athletes from the Russian Federation have not been allowed to compete under their national flag in their country’s uniform over revelations about state-backed doping at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Alexander Krushelnytsky (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)
Alexander Krushelnytsky (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images)

A Russian curling athlete who won a bronze medal in curling at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has left the games on suspicion of doping, a team official said on Monday.

Alexander Krushelnytsky’s failed a preliminary doping test, putting his medal, and Russia’s efforts to move past revelations of state-sponsored doping, behind it.

Krushelnytsky has travelled to the South Korean capital Seoul, as he awaits results of a second drug test, after traces of meldonium – heart medication that increases blood flow, and which has been banned since 2016 – were found in his urine, after routine testing.

The drug is the same one that resulted in Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova being banned for 15 months in 2016.

According to Reuters, Russian delegation spokesman Konstantin Vybornov, said that the athlete had surrendered his Games accreditation and left the Olympic village. Krushelnitsky won bronze with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova in mixed-doubles curling in Pyeongchang.

Russia has been accused of running a state-backed, systematic doping program for years, an allegation Moscow denies. As a result, its athletes are competing at Pyeongchang as neutral “Olympic Athletes from Russia” (OAR), and banned from using their national flag or anthem.

Russian curling team officials have said that all athletes were tested on 22 January before travelling to South Korea, and have insisted that only “a crazy person” would take banned substance before a competition.