Russian bobsleigh pilot tests positive for banned substance

A second Russian athlete competing at the Winter Olympics has tested positive for a banned drug.

The Russian Bobsleigh Federation on Friday announced women's pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva had tested positive for a banned heart drug which the Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR) confirmed was trimetazidince.

Her anti-doping rule violation follows that of Alexander Krushelnitsky, who on Thursday was stripped of the mixed doubles curling bronze medal he won with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

The Russian Bobsleigh Federation reported on its official Facebook page that Sergeeva tested positive on February 18, two days before the women's bobsleigh competition in Pyeongchang, having returned a clean sample on February 13.

Olympic Athlete from Russia's Nadezhda Sergeeva (pilot) and Anastasia Kocherzhova compete in the Two Woman Bobsleigh Heat 3 at the Olympic Sliding Centre. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

"The medical staff of the national team did not prescribe the drug to the sportswoman," the Russian Bobsleigh Federation said on Facebook.

"The Russian Bobsleigh Federation and the athlete herself understand the extent of her responsibility and understands how the event may react to the fate of the whole team."

Sergeeva and her brakewoman Anastasia Kocherzhova finished 12th in the women's two-person bobsleigh which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An OAR statement said: "Today, the OAR delegation has received a formal notification that bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, a member of the OAR team, was tested positive for a prohibited drug trimetazidine. The decision on this case will be taken according to the current rules. The OAR informed the IOC about doping offence immediately."

The latest anti-doping infraction could jeopardise Russian hopes of the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee being lifted in time for Sunday's closing ceremony.

The ROC is under suspension by the International Olympic Committee following the systemic doping at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

The IOC in December determined that Russian athletes who proved they were clean would be allowed to compete as neutrals in the Games, in a team named the Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR).

The OAR are competing under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem is being played at any medal ceremonies they feature in.

There are 168 athletes competing in the OAR team, who won their first gold of the Games on Friday through 15-year-old Alina Zagitova in the women's figure skating.

The lifting, or partial lifting, of the ban could see Russian athletes parade under the Russian flag at Sunday's closing ceremony.

There are, on the face of it at least, similarities between the cases involving Krushelnitsky and Sergeeva.

The drug involved in the Sergeeva case has not yet been disclosed, but meldonium was the substance Krushelnitsky tested positive for.

For meldonium, which boosts blood flow, to be performance-enhancing it must be used on a regular basis and over a prolonged period of time and the OAR said Krushelnitsky provided a clear drug sample on January 22.

Meldonium was found to be used by more than 100 Russian athletes in 2016. Sergeeva was one of those athletes.

Former world tennis number one Maria Sharapova served a 15-month ban for using the substance after it was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list.

- PA

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