Russian bobsledder who wore 'I don't do drugs' shirt tests positive

Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Olympics

PEYONGCHANG, South Korea -- About the same time that the Olympic anthem was being played instead of the Russian anthem for gold-medal figure skater Alina Zagitova, the reasons why were being illustrated once again.

Another Russian athlete had failed a drug test.

This time it was a female bobsledder who recently filmed an ad wearing a sweatshirt that said in English: "I don't do drugs." And whose national federation chief had his 2014 bobsled medal stripped as part of the Sochi doping scandal.

Alexander Zubkov, president of the Russian bobsled federation and convicted doper, confirmed that pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva had tested positive for trimetazdine, a heart medication that can alter the body's metabolism and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list. It is fast acting, so it is only prohibited in urine tests collected in-competition.

That makes four doping cases at the Pyeongchang Olympics, two of which have been Russians. Earlier in the week, Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky tested positive for meldonium, a different type of heart medication banned for its performance-enhancing benefits.

The concern for Russia, of course, is what that means for Sunday.

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The International Olympic Committee had technically barred Russia from these Winter Games after the doping mess in Sochi, then allowed 168 athletes who passed a (supposedly) comprehensive vetting process to compete wearing neutral uniforms as Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR). If any won a gold, the Olympic anthem would be played and Olympic flag raised.

The carrot was that, if all went well, the IOC would allow the Russian flag to fly Sunday at the Closing Ceremony -- symbolic of the nation's return to the Olympic movement.

Krushelnitsky initially refuted his positive test and filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which set up special panels of judges to hear cases in Pyeongchang. But the case suddenly was dropped and Krushelnitsky accepted the test's result, agreeing to forfeit the bronze medal he won in the mixed curling event with his wife. Norway will be awarded the medal instead in a special ceremony this weekend.

That, many speculated, was done to appease the IOC in exchange for Russia's inclusion in the Closing Ceremony. The IOC's executive board is expected to make a final decision Saturday.


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