Russian curler caught doping to return Olympic bronze medal

Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze at the 2018 Olympic Games last week, will give back his medal after he failed a doping test.

Krushelnitsky tested positive for the banned substance meldonium — believed to help blood circulation — after winning in mixed doubles.

A spokesperson for the Russian Curling Federation told state TV Russia 1 that the organization “signed a statement that indeed he did have (meldonium in the sample) and as a result we will give the medal back.”

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An investigation was launched Tuesday by the Russian Olympic Committee to determine how the banned substance ended up in Krushelnitsky’s body. The committee said he cleared a doping test on Jan. 22.

The delegation expressed its “sincere regret” in the incident, but said Krushelnitsky would not have benefited from the drug based on the concentration that was found in the tests.

More than 168 Russian athletes — including Krushelnitsky — competed as an “Olympic Athlete from Russia” under the Olympic flag after Russia’s formal Olympic team was banned from the Pyeongchang Games for doping at the Sochi Winter Games four years ago.

Krushelnitsky, and his wife, “Angelina Jolie lookalike” Anastasia Bryzgalova, became the first Russians to compete at the Winter Olympics since the Sochi Games when they competed in a preliminary-round game Feb. 8, the day before the opening ceremony.

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A statement in Krushelnitsky's name published by state news agency Tass said he accepted the substance had been found in his sample but that he had not doped intentionally.

The Olympic curler added that he and his wife consider themselves “clean athletes.”

Russian curling officials have said they believe Krushelnitsky's food or drink could have been spiked with meldonium either by Russia's political enemies or by jealous Russian rival athletes who had not made the Olympic team.

Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitsky, "Olympic Athletes from Russia," on the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitsky, "Olympic Athletes from Russia," on the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that despite Russia’s statements, a hearing is still scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, just days before the International Olympic Committee is scheduled to decide on Saturday whether to formally reinstate the Russian team for the closing ceremony.

Two other athletes have been caught doping at the Winter Olympics. Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol in an in-competition test, and Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito failed a pre-competition test.

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.