- Alexander Krushelnitsky won his bronze medal in mixed doubles
- Rumours of deal for Russians to have own flag at closing ceremony
The Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky has been stripped of his mixed doubles bronze medal amid rumours that a deal has been struck to allow Russian athletes to march under their country’s flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Krushelnitsky had initially protested his innocence after testing positive for the banned heart drug meldonium, claiming his drink had been spiked. However on Thursday he dropped his appeal before he was officially banned by the court of arbitration for sport.
Russia was banned last year from the Winter Games because of its state-sponsored doping system but the IOC will still allow 169 of its athletes to compete in Pyeongchang this month
It is a plotline worthy of Mikhail Bulgakov, or another of the great Soviet fabulists. Two months ago, Russia was banned from the Winter Olympics. Yet next Friday, around 170 athletes clad in Russian red will march into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, acknowledge the crowd’s applause at the opening ceremony, and hear the announcer cry: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Olympic Athletes from Russia!”
Casual viewers may well scratch their heads. Much of the international sporting community, however, will be tearing their hair out. After all, Russia is acknowledged to have committed the sporting fraud of the century, by manipulating doping samples of more than 1,000 athletes across 30 sports from 2010-15 and corrupting the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, yet its punishment appears little more than the sporting equivalent of sitting on the naughty step.