Russian curling chief calls Olympic doping case a ‘provocation’

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Russia’s curling federation chief said Monday the doping case involving a Russian curler at the Winter Olympics was a “provocation” and a “subversive act”. Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in the mixed doubles curling with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova, has tested positive for a substance believed to be meldonium, which increases endurance and helps recovery.

“I’m confident it’s a provocation, a subversive act,” curling federation president Dmitry Svishchev told Russia’s 360TV channel. “During his career, since 2015, he gave 11 samples for testing and all of them have been negative. Just imagine what could have happened inside the man’s head to take a (banned) pill ahead of the Olympics?”

Svishchev said the preliminary results showed that the case appeared to show the drug had been taken on just one occasion. He added that curling, a game of skill and not power, is the kind of sport where doping is pointless. Svishchev also dismissed rumors that the Russian curler had handed in his accreditation and left the Olympic Village.

“I talked to our guys in the morning. None of them have left the Olympic village,” Svishchev said. “We will have to do a great deal of work.” The Kremlin refused to comment on the case and called for media to wait for the final results of the tests. “We shouldn’t comment on this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We call everyone to wait for the official statements.

“Let’s wait for the B sample (analysis), let’s wait for the investigation that should inevitably take place in this situation.” The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said earlier Monday that the case would be “extremely disappointing” if confirmed.

A fresh doping case would be deeply embarrassing for Russia, which was banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics over state-sponsored doping. The IOC has allowed 168 Russian athletes deemed clean to compete as neutral Olympic Athletes from Russia.

If the case is confirmed, it will come before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is handling doping matters. It would also be considered by the panel which will ponder whether to end Russia’s ban as early as next week. The IOC suspended Russia in December after revelations of a highly orchestrated doping conspiracy, which first emerged before the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

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