At Winter Olympics, Russian Curler Suspected Of Doping

Feb 19, 2018
Originally published on February 19, 2018 7:18 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. The subject of doping is rearing its ugly head again at this year's Olympic Games. We should remember here Russia was banned from the Olympics this year because of its alleged massive doping system. But some Russian athletes who were deemed clean were invited to compete. And now one of them is under scrutiny again, accused of testing positive for a banned substance. Let's go to Pyeongchang, South Korea, and NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: The news broke last night that a Russian athlete tested positive, but nothing was final until his backup urine sample was tested as well. Late Monday afternoon, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which oversees doping matters at the Games, said it had registered a new procedure against curling bronze medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky. Now, this language on the surface doesn't confirm the backup sample was positive too, but according to someone close to the case, new procedures don't begin unless there's sufficient evidence of a possible doping violation. Earlier Monday, reporters asked Konstantin Vybornov about the potential damage to Russia from a doping violation in Pyeongchang. Vybornov is the press attache for the Russian delegation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KONSTANTIN VYBORNOV: In every situation, every positive doping test could damage the reputation of a sportsman or a federation or a national sport - every case concerning with every country.

GOLDMAN: But of course it's especially damaging to Russia. For two straight Olympics, the country has fielded incomplete teams because of doping punishments. The Krushelnitsky case doesn't exactly help the International Olympic Committee's reputation either. The IOC invited more than 160 Russian athletes to South Korea, including Krushelnitsky, after putting them through what the IOC calls a rigorous drug screening process before the Games. IOC spokesman Mark Adams was asked Monday whether that process failed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK ADAMS: I don't want to speculate on a particular case. Products could be taken here. Products could be taken anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN: (Shouting in foreign language).

GOLDMAN: At curling competition today, Russian athletes expressed concern for Krushelnitsky who reportedly has turned in his credential and left the Olympics. Teammates also were skeptical about the drug test. There is a theory that Krushelnitsky was the victim of sabotage.

Olympic Athletes from Russia, as they're called at these Games, have to adhere to a code of conduct. They can't publicly display the Russian flag, and they have to follow anti-doping rules. If Krushelnitsky breached the code, the IOC could withdraw its offer to let the Russian flag fly at the closing ceremony. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Pyeongchang. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.