2/19/2018 12:34:00 PM

Olympics reels as 'clean' Russian curler hit by doping case

Olympics reels as

Pyeongchang, South Korea: A Russian curler, who passed rigorous vetting to attend the Pyeongchang Olympics, was hit by a drug case on Monday, 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 it has emerged that he failed his A and B test samples and CAS will now decide if there has been a violation and possible sanctions.

A source close to the matter told AFP 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 coach Sergei Belanov earlier dismissed the claims against Krushelnitsky, saying doping would be "no advantage" in curling, a sedate ice sport.

"No benefits. No advantage," said Belanov, women's curling coach for the Olympic Athletes from Russia team, when asked why a curler would want to use performance-enhancing drugs.

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