Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Olympics reels as ‘clean’ Russian curler hit by doping case



Olympics reels as ‘clean’ Russian curler hit by doping case

Aleksandr Krushelnitsky competes in the curling mixed doubles between the US and Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on February 8. AFP
Aleksandr Krushelnitsky competes in the curling mixed doubles between the US and Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on February 8. AFP

Olympics reels as ‘clean’ Russian curler hit by doping case

A medal-winning Russian curler who passed rigorous vetting to attend the Pyeongchang Olympics was hit by a drugs case today, raising questions over the testing programme and the move to let Russians compete despite systemic doping.

Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in the mixed doubles curling with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova, was the subject of a new procedure at the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) anti-doping division.

The case could have wider repercussions: Olympic officials will decide this week whether to lift a ban on Russia and let them march behind their national flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

Krushelnitsky was one of 168 athletes passed as “clean” and allowed to compete as neutrals after a targeted testing programme stretching back over several months.

But after both his A and B urine samples tested positive, CAS will now decide if there has been a violation and any possible sanctions. No date was set for the hearing.

A source close to the matter said the case involves meldonium, which increases endurance and helps recovery. Tennis star Maria Sharapova served a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium in 2016.

Russia were banned as a team from the Olympics in December after investigations revealed an extensive doping plot culminating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, where the hosts topped the medals table.

Russian curling federation president Dmitry Svishchev dismissed the case against Krushelnitsky as a “provocation, a subversive act”.

“During his career, since 2015, he gave 11 samples for testing and all of them have been negative,” Svishchev told Russia’s 360TV channel.

“Just imagine what could have happened inside the man’s head to take a [banned] pill ahead of the Olympics?”

Russia’s women’s curling coach Sergei Belanov also insisted performance-enhancing drugs would make little sense in the sedate ice sport.

“And I don’t believe a young man chooses risk or will use the same drug that has been around for two years,” he said. “It’s stupid and Alexander is not a stupid man.”

‘Very, very vigorous programme’

The International Olympic Committee said there could be “consequences” for Russia. A special panel will meet this week to discuss lifting Russia’s suspension before the closing ceremony.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams, when asked if the Russian flag could still be allowed at the closing ceremony, said the panel will examine whether they have followed the “letter and the spirit of the [December] ruling.

“And if it hasn’t been, there will obviously be consequences,” he said.

Adams said the IOC stands by the decision to allow supposedly clean Russian athletes to compete in Pyeongchang, saying they were “tested at significant levels more than others”.

“We went through a very, very rigorous programme . . . there was a sense from the IOC that we wanted individual athletes, if we could prove they were clean, to have the chance to participate in the Olympic Games,” Adams said.

“I think we would very much stick by that decision that athletes should not be judged as a group but we should find a way to rigorously test them and provide a route for clean athletes to compete.”

Russian athletes have won 11 medals so far in Pyeongchang, including the curling bronze, as well as silvers in figure skating, cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Russian competitors were subjected to targeted testing under a special taskforce including senior experts and several national anti-doping agencies, Adams said.

“Only athletes for whom there was no suspicion were invited to the Games,” he said, adding: “Unfortunately wherever there’s competitive sport, you’ll have people cheating.

“But I think you can be pretty confident we have a very, very thorough testing process in place and we have the experts with the expertise who are doing that.”

This story was updated at 21:00 ICT

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro