Russian curler stripped of Olympic medal after confirmed doping

Pyeong Chang, South Korea – Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitzky and his curling partner/wife Anastasia Bryzgalova have lost the mixed doubles curling bronze medal after meldonium was found in his “B sample”.  The ruling was made by the Olympic Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

 The accused curler openly admitted to violating antidoping rules, but he did not admit to intentionally taking meldonium. 

 Alexander Krushelnitzky, representing Olympic Athletes from Russia, was found with the enhancing substance meldonium in both his A and B drug test samples taken during the Pyeong Chang Olympic games. However, samples taken prior to the games as well as those taken on January 22nd had negative results.  

Krushelnitzky and his curling partner Anastasia Bryzgalova, who happens to be his wife, competed in mixed doubles curling, securing a bronze medal amid doping suspicion.  Now, after the Olympic Court has made the official ruling, that medal has been deleted, and the pair has been disqualified from contention. The bronze medal is expected to go to the Norwegian team, the 4th place finishers. 

After being charged, the athlete waived his right to a hearing, but according to Dimitry Svishchev, president of Russia’s curling federation, “this is by no means an admission of guilt.”  Anastasia Bryzgalova was not found with meldonium in her samples. 

It is still unclear whether this offense was a conscious use of the drug, and officials are not certain how the drug entered the curler’s system. Russian curling officials suspect that Krushelnitzky’s food or drink was spiked with the substance, potentially out of athletic jealousy.  

Meldonium, the banned substance found in Krushelnitzky’s samples, is believed to widen arteries and boost blood flow among athletes. It has been banned at Olympic events for almost 2 years. Typically, the drug is only effective if taken consistently, so it may not have impacted Krushelnitzky’s curling performance. 

This recent escapade adds to the distrust of Russian athletes. Late last year, the International Olympic Committee banned many of Russia’s athletes due to a “widespread culture of doping.” In fact, the country of Russia was barred from the Pyeong Chang games. The 168 Russian athletes deemed doping-free had to compete under a neutral Olympic flag and were identified as “Olympic Athletes from Russia”.