PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — A Russian athlete who won a bronze medal in curling at the Winter Olympics here has failed a preliminary doping test, putting in jeopardy his medal and Russia’s efforts to move past a vast, state-backed cheating scheme that left it nominally barred from the Games.
The athlete, Alexander Krushelnytsky, who competed in mixed doubles curling with his wife, is the first athlete from Russia to come under investigation for using a banned substance at these Games.
Traces of meldonium, a heart medicine that increases blood flow and has been banned from most sports since 2016, were found in a routine urine sample. A second test will be conducted to confirm the finding, according to a statement from an orgainzation representing the Olympic Athletes From Russia, the designation given to more than 160 Russian athletes who had been cleared to compete at the Games under that name.
Representatives of the group confirmed one of their athletes was under investigation and an official with knowledge of the case but who was not authorized to publicly speak about it confirmed it was him.
The timing could not be worse for Russia.
The nation was barred from the Olympics in December after an investigation into a state-backed doping program that corrupted the 2014 Olympics it hosted in Sochi. Scores of athletes, coaches and officials tainted by the scandal have been barred, though the International Olympic Committee has been considering allowing the Russian athletes to march under their national flag and uniforms for the closing ceremony, which they were not permitted to do during the opening ceremony. The Olympic anthem will be played instead of Russia’s national anthem for any winners of gold medals, although no Russians have won so far.
The Russians allowed to participate in South Korea were subjected to what Olympics officials described as a rigorous testing regimen , and have found themselves under scrutiny from testers as the event has progressed.