A Russian athlete who won bronze in the mixed curling at the Winter Olympics has failed a preliminary drug test, putting his medal into jeopardy and throwing the spotlight on the decision to welcome 168 Russian athletes to Pyeongchang after the country was nominally banned for state-sponsored doping in Sochi four years ago.
The athlete has not been officially named but sources have confirmed reports in Russia that it is Alexander Krushelnytsky, who was found to have meldonium in his urine after playing in the mixed-curling tournament as a member of the Olympic Athletes from Russia team alongside his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.
The substance, which is used to treat heart attack victims, has been prohibited since 2016. It was commonly used by Russian athletes before that, including Maria Sharapova, who was banned for 15 months after she failed a test at the Australian Open in January 2016.
At his sport’s recent national championships, U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier issued a surprising but admirable shot across the bow at Russia’s massive, state-sponsored doping machine when he said Russia does not belong in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Now, unfortunately, U.S. Figure Skating is trying to take it all back.
In a Jan. 26 letter to the International Skating Union obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Auxier and USFS executive director David Raith labeled Auxier’s statement "his personal opinions," adding, "These opinions were Auxier’s own and not the official position of U.S. Figure Skating."
And what is the official position of the organization?