Russian athlete suspected of failing drugs test

The Russian delegation at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has been notified that one of its athletes failed a drug test.

Konstantin Vybornov, a spokesman for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, said the team was waiting for the results of a second sample taken from the athlete before making any official comment or naming the individual.

The results of the so-called “B sample” could come as early as Monday night local time in South Korea.

More than 160 Russian athletes who could prove they were clean from doping are competing in a Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team after the nation was banned from the Games because of state-sponsored doping leading up to and including the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

IOC reaction

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement posted to Twitter it “cannot communicate on individual cases while the procedure is still ongoing,” because “doping testing and sanctioning at the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 is independent from the IOC.”

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said at a daily press briefing Monday it would be “extremely disappointing for us if a case is proven.”

“On the other hand, what is does show is we have a system which is effective and protects the rights of the clean athletes,” he added.

Several media outlets in Russia are reporting the positive test is for meldonium, the same substance for which tennis star Maria Sharapova was banned.

Flag

The use of meldonium, which was added to the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency from 2016, is widespread in Russia and eastern Europe, where it is often taken as a heart drug.

The news of a doping case in the OAR team could mean the athletes won’t be able to march in their national uniform and with the Russian flag at the closing ceremony.

Although they competed under the OAR flag, the IOC had said beforehand the Russian athletes may have been able to march in their own national colors at the closing ceremony if they stuck to its strict code of conduct on neutrality.

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