Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, the Russian curler who claimed bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympics alongside his wife in the mixed doubles, is suspected of testing positive for a banned substance in Pyeongchang, according to reports.
The 25-year-old is said to have tested positive for meldonium, which improves an athlete’s capacity for exercise. It is the same drug for which tennis player Maria Sharapova served a 15-month suspension.
Russian competitors are participating at the Winter Olympics under a neutral flag as ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’ [OAR], after the International Olympic Committee banned the Russian Olympic Association following allegations of state-sponsored systematic doping.
On Sunday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that an athlete had violated anti-doping rules at the Games. The news, if confirmed, would be another damaging blow as Russia seeks to repair its reputation in the sport.
A statement from a spokesman of the OAR team said: "Today, the headquarters of our delegation received an official notification from the IOC about a possible violation of the anti-doping rules.
"We do not call the name of the athlete, as well as the sport prior to the results of the opening of sample B, which will become known within 24 hours."
The IOC meanwhile refused to confirm the allegation and said that all anti-doping cases are being handled independently in Pyeongchang.
"However, we take note of the statement by a spokesperson of the Olympic Athlete from Russia [OAR] delegation,” an IOC statement read.
"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.
"If the case is confirmed, it will be considered by the OAR implementation group - chaired by IOC executive board (EB) member Nicole Hoevertsz - which will report to the IOC EB at the end of the Olympic Games."
Krusshelnitckii, who on Tuesday claimed the bronze double with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova in the mixed doubles, has not responded to requests for comment.
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