Initially, Russia was banned from competing in this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after investigators found its athletes had participated in a sumptuous government-run doping scheme throughout the Sochi Winter Olympics. However, the International Olympic Committee eventually sympathized, inviting 169 Russian athletes to participate in the games as “Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR),” wearing neutral colors and marching under the Olympic flag in the opening ceremonies.
Thinking they could march under their own flag at the closing ceremonies, the Russians may have hoped that the international sports community would readmit them. But now, all of it seems doubtful. On Monday, February 19 morning the IOC announced that Alexander Krushelnitsky, the Russian curler who won bronze in the mixed doubles curling event with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, tested positive for the banned drug ‘meldonium’. It is considered to be a heart drug and is banned from the game since 2016. It supposedly increases blood flow which helps in endurance. Meldonium is also the same drug that banned Tennis player Maria Sharapova from entering any tournament for 15 months back in 2016.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed that its anti-doping division has opened a case against him, after analyzing the second sample. However, no hearing date has been set yet. If the court collects enough evidence of doping, it’s likely to force Krushelnitckii and Bryzgalova to forfeit their medals. In a brief statement to the Russian newswire RIA, Krushelnitsky said, “I know nothing about all this.”
As Krushelnitsky was leaving the Olympic village surrendering his accreditation, his Russian teammates expressed shock. Russian curler Victoria Moiseeva told reporters they believe their teammate is innocent. “With us, it’s not faster, higher, stronger; it’s about being more accurate. I can’t imagine what kind of drugs you could use in curling so it’s very hard to believe,” Moiseeva said.
The governing body of the IOC issues a statement, which read, “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.”