Alexander Krushelnitsky, left, with Anastasia Bryzgalova, has initially been found guilty of doping. The Canadian Press.

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement Monday that it has “initiated a procedure involving” Krushelnitsky, who finished third in mixed doubles with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

Russian officials said he tested positive for meldonium, which was banned in 2016, and has left the Olympic village. No date has been set for a hearing.

Related: Russian athlete suspected of doping at PyeongChang Olympics

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says a failed doping test could keep Russia’s banned team from marching under the national flag at the closing ceremony.

Russian athletes are participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The IOC suspended the Russian Olympic committee last year in connection with a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi but allowed 168 athletes to compete under neutral uniforms and without the Russian national flag.

Adams confirmed the positive test and says it could have “consequences” in evaluating the behaviour the Russian team, which was required to abide by restrictions — including bans to some medal favourites — and to undergo extra drug tests.

“If confirmed this will be taken into account along with many other factors” regarding Russian behaviour,” Adams said.

Russian Curling Federation president Dmitry Svishchev told The Associated Press that Krushelnitsky tested clean as recently as January 22, the day before he flew to a pre-Olympic training camp in Japan.

Svishchev said it was possible someone spiked Krushelnitsky’s food or drink. He suggested that rival Russian athletes or Russia’s political enemies could be responsible.

“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.”

Related: Appeals by 45 Russian athletes against Olympic bans rejected

The curling team trained in Japan in January, bringing in some Russian athletes who had not qualified for the Olympics as practice partners.

The federation senior vice-president Andrei Sozin confirmed to the AP that Krushelnitsky tested positive for meldonium, a substance which was banned in sport in 2016.

“Alexander has left the Olympic village and given up his accreditation,” Sozin said. “We have information from our sources that the substance found was meldonium, which has not been used by Russian athletes and teams since 2015.”

Meldonium is the substance that Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova was suspended for after testing positive at the Australian Open in 2016. Before it was banned, many Russian athletes used the drug, which is designed for people with heart problems and some believe can help athletes increase stamina.

Krushelnitsky’s “A sample” tested positive. Adams said a second sample would be tested, and results could be announced within 24 hours.

The Norwegian team finished fourth, and could get the bronze if the positive test is confirmed.

Adams says Russians at the games have undergone “rigorous testing” and adds that “Russians were tested to a significant level more than others.”

The case was the talk of the rink at curling.

Russian women’s curling coach Sergei Belanov said he didn’t believe that a young and “clever man” would dope. “It’s stupid. But Aleksandr is not stupid, so I don’t believe it.”

The skip of the Russian women’s team, Viktoria Moiseeva wanted to comfort Krushelnitsky and Bryzgalova but “we thought that there are no words to comfort now. We just tried to stay away.”

Though to the uninitiated, the idea of a curler using performance-enhancing drugs may seem bizarre, the sport does demand a high level of athleticism at the Olympic level. Curlers need to have strong core muscles and upper body strength in order to manage the often rigorous sweeping that helps them guide the rock down the ice.

Related: Doping controversy leads to verbal spat between Canadian, Russian in Pyeongchang

Fitness is even more important in mixed doubles, the event Krushelnitsky was competing in. Because there are just two curlers on each team instead of the four in traditional curling, there is little rest between throws, and both teammates are often heavily involved in sweeping.

“It’s physically demanding out there. It’s not like you don’t need any muscles,” said Swiss curler Silvana Tirinzoni, whose team beat the Russian women’s team 11-2 at Monday’s round robin. “We have to be fit and we have to be working out. My sweepers are working out like five times a week, go to the gym, so it (performance-enhancing drugs) can help, but we shouldn’t do that. I think that’s stupid.”

Tirinzoni said if the reports were confirmed, they would be disappointing. But she said she still had no reservations about playing against the Russian athletes on Monday.

“I think clean athletes have the right to compete,” she said. “It’s not about me to make those kind of decisions. So I believe the team we played today, they are as clean as we are.”

___

Kristen Gelineau in Gangneung, South Korea, contributed to this report.

James Ellingworth And Stephen Wade, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

A Russian supporter waves a flag before the preliminary round of the men’s hockey game between the team from Russia and the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Just Posted

Parker Thompson makes a big splash to start the 2019 Road to Indy race season

Double victories in St. Petersburg indicate 2019 could be Thompson’s best season yet

NDP Leader Rachel Notley stops in Red Deer on campaign trail

Notley promises hospital expansion, cath lab, pipelines and energy industry expansion

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer discusses thoughts on federal budget

New federal infrastructure funding likely coming to Red Deer

Alberta Election called for April 16th

Upcoming election will be about who is fit to be Premier, says Notley

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Carbon tax, oil and gas investment dominate Day 2 of Alberta campaign

NDP pledges more oil and gas processing, UCP slams provincial and federal governments on carbon tax

Another gun seized by police in Wetaskiwin

Maskwacis RCMP arrest two youths, seize firearm in Wetaskiwin

Sundre RCMP looking for 4 missing bison

A Sundre bison rancher is missing four bison from January and RCMP ask for help from the public

Politicians hitting the road for votes in Alberta election campaign

NDP Leader Rachel Notley and United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney have officially launched campaigns

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death seeking full parole

The trial heard that Ryan was dead well before his mother called 911 to say he had stopped breathing

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Most Read