On Thursday, the IOC officially stripped Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky and his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, of their Olympic bronze medals won during the mixed curling competition, the first event of the PyeongChang Olympics.
Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, which increases blood circulation and is the same substance that earned tennis player Maria Sharapova a 15-month ban.
It has been an odd Olympic Games for Russia, which began these Games banned entirely after it was discovered that a state-wide doping scandal benefited more than 1,000 Russian athletes from 2011-2015. Yet the IOC still allowed 168 Russians to compete under the title “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” though it still gave all the impressions of Russia, complete with the red and white colors. There has even been a banner emblazoned with the face of Russian president Vladimir Putin, including a statement translated by the Associated Press to read: “No one is stronger than Russia in winter sports.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for Russia, as Krushelnitsky’s medal officially being stripped comes just two days before an IOC meeting that will decide whether to reinstate Russia and formally allow its flag to fly at the Closing Ceremony.
Two other athletes have also been caught doping in these Olympics: Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic and Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito.
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