Competing under a neutral flag, curlers Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitsky win first medal for curling in #Russia history at #Pyeonchang2018 https://t.co/XuhRChMQfZ pic.twitter.com/na4yl1TVfv— The Moscow Times (@MoscowTimes) February 13, 2018
The Russian Olympic Team was barred from the 2018 Olympic Games because of doping. That doesn't mean there aren't Russian athletes in the games, but each had to register as an independent athlete, and they were not allowed to march under the Russian flag at the opening ceremonies. The IOC had considered letting the athletes unite under the Russian flag at the closing ceremonies, but that idea has been dropped for now. What could have changed their minds? A new doping scandal. After winning a bronze medal, Alexander Krushelnitsky failed a drug test. His sport? Curling. If you are surprised that curling has a doping problem, you aren't the only one.
Alexander Krushelnitsky, who competes in curling, one of the Games’ least physically taxing sports, is suspected of testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance that increases blood flow and improves exercise capacity.
“It’s stupid, but Alexander is not stupid, so I don’t believe it,” Russian women’s curling coach Sergei Belanov said.
He echoed a general bewilderment among curling athletes who could not fathom why anyone would use drugs that aid endurance in a sport that is a kind of chess on ice, needing steady hands and concentration rather than physical fitness.
Krushelnitsky, who won bronze with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova in mixed-doubles curling in Pyeongchang, has not responded to a request for comment.