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Russian curler found guilty of doping: CAS

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PyeongChang (South Korea), Feb 22: An Olympic curling bronze medallist from Russia was found guilty of violating an anti-doping rule at the PyeongChang Winter Games and was stripped of his medal, an international sports arbitration body announced Thursday.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued a statement saying that Aleksandr Krushelnitckii of the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) was "found guilty of an anti-doping rule violation with meldonium".

Meldonium, a drug used to treat heart conditions, was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances in January of 2016 amid evidence of use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance, reports Yonhap news agency. 

Krushelnitckii won bronze in mixed doubles curling together with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, in PyeongChang. 

According to CAS, he has been excluded from the Winter Games in PyeongChang and has agreed to surrender his medal and accreditation.

Russia has been accused of running a state-sponsored doping programme for years, an allegation Moscow denies. Russia was banned from participating in PyeongChang, but 168 of the country's athletes cleared of doping allegations were allowed to compete as OAR delegates.

Russian news agency TASS reported that the curler acknowledged meldonium had been found in his sample but insisted that he had not doped intentionally.

The CAS ruling comes at a sensitive time, as the OAR Implementation Group of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is scheduled to decide Saturday whether to allow the OAR delegation to display the Russian flag during their march in the closing ceremony Sunday. 

The CAS ruling will likely become a major sticking point in Saturday's meeting.

"Should this case be proven or should this case come to fruition, that will also be part of consideration as to whether they will be allowed to march in the closing ceremony under the (Russian) flag," IOC spokesperson Mark Adams stated.

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