Aleksandr Krushelnitckii can’t believe his drugs test result.
Aleksandr Krushelnitckii can’t believe his drugs test result.

Russian curler stunned by positive drugs test

RUSSIAN Olympic medallist Alexandr Krushelnitckii has denied taking a banned substance in a suspected doping case that has rocked the PyeongChang Winter Games and could imperil Russia's efforts to regain full Olympic status.


Krushelnitckii, who won bronze in PyeongChang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in the near future after he tested positive for meldonium, a drug that can aid in endurance.


In his first comments since the positive test emerged this week, Krushelnitckii said he had never taken any banned substances and was categorically against doping.


"Only a person devoid of common sense can use any kind of doping, and especially (through drugs) like meldonium, ahead of the Olympics where testing is at its highest level," he said.


The case has caused bewilderment among curling athletes. The sport, a kind of chess on ice, calls for steady hands and concentration rather than physical fitness.


Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov came to Krushelnitckii's defence, saying the athlete could not have taken a banned drug deliberately.


"It's obvious that in this particular case, the athlete could not have intentionally used a prohibited substance, it just does not make any sense," Kolobkov said.

Aleksandr Krushelnitckii won bronze in the mixed curling.
Aleksandr Krushelnitckii won bronze in the mixed curling.


"Curling, in theory, in not the kind of sport in which dishonest athletes dope."


The case comes at a delicate time for Russia, which has been accused of running a state-backed, systematic doping program for years, an allegation Moscow denies.


Its athletes are competing at PyeongChang as neutrals, and Russia had been hoping that a clean record at the Games would enable it to return to full Olympic status.


The Russian Olympic delegation said it could not explain how meldonium ended up in Krushelnitckii's body and that it was launching an investigation.


The delegation said the concentration of meldonium found in Krushelnitckii's sample suggested he would not have derived a benefit.


The news came on the same day that Ziga Jeglic, a Slovenian ice hockey player, failed a test and was suspended for the remainder of the Games.