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Russian Curler Found Guilty Of Doping, Loses Bronze Medal


Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) says that Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitsky has been found guilty of an anti-doping violation after testing positive for a banned substance.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) mixed-doubles curling team, who won bronze at the Pyeongchang games, has been disqualified from the competition and lost the medal, the CAS said.

The athlete, who won the medal with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, had accepted a provisional suspension beyond the period of the games, it said.

The CAS earlier on February 22 canceled Krushelnitsky's hearing after he issued a statement published by Russian state-run news agency TASS announcing he had waived his right to the hearing.

"I accept a formal breach of the current anti-doping rules," the statement quoted Krushelnicky as saying, but added that he had not doped intentionally.

Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, which is believed to help blood circulation.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Curling Federation told Russian media that Krushelnitsky would give back his Olympic bronze medal after failing the drug test.

"We have signed a statement that indeed he did have [meldonium in his urine sample] and as a result we will give the medal back," Russian Curling Federation spokeswoman Valentina Parinova told state TV channel Rossia 1.

"The court would have made the decision to strip us of our medals anyway," TASS quoted Parinova as saying.

The announcement came ahead of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision on whether to formally reinstate the Russian team for the closing ceremony, which is expected on February 24.

The IOC has said Krushelnitsky's case would be one factor in deciding whether to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee.

The IOC is also considering what IOC athletes commission chairwoman Angela Ruggiero called "a wide range" of opinions among Olympic athletes both for and against Russia's reinstatement.

A spokesman said IOC President Thomas Bach met briefly with Igor Levitin, an aide to Russia President Vladimir Putin, on February 21, but he did not say whether Russia had paid a $15 million fine that was part of its doping sanctions.

Some news media have reported that Russia must pay the fine to get reinstated.

Russia was banned from the Pyeongchang games over widespread doping at the Sochi Games four years ago, but 168 Russians including Krushelnitsky were allowed by the IOC to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" under the Olympic flag.

Krushelnitsky and Bryzgalova were the first Russians to compete at the Pyeongchang games as they participated in a preliminary-round game on February 8, the day before the opening ceremony.

A statement in Krushelnitsky's name published by TASS said he accepted the banned substance had been found in his sample but that he had not doped intentionally.

"I accept a formal breach of the current anti-doping rules," the statement read, adding that he will waive his right to a court hearing on the matter because it would be "useless and senseless" for he and his wife to fight the case.

According to TASS, Krushelnitsky said in the statement that he and Bryzgalova consider themselves "clean athletes" and they might contest any move by the World Curling Federation to ban them permanently from the sport.

Russian curling officials have said they believe Krushelnitsky's food or drink could have been spiked with meldonium either by Russia's political enemies or by jealous Russian rival athletes who had not made the Olympic team.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters
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