Russian doping offense in curling is a curious case
When word broke on Monday that a Russian Olympic curler was facing a doping charge, the curling world was floored. Not because of the tired cliché that curling isn’t a real sport, but because doping goes against the very essence of what curling is all about.
The charge against Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won the curling mixed doubles bronze medal last week with Anastasia Bryzgalova, stands in stark contrast to curling’s noteworthy adherence to good sportsmanship, an ethos known as ‘‘The Spirit of Curling.’’ The World Curling Federation’s rules quite literally state that a true curler would prefer to lose than to win unfairly.
Russian officials say Krushelnitsky tested positive for meldonium. The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the doping offense and said Monday that it has ‘‘initiated a procedure’’ involving Krushelnitsky. The court says no hearing date has been set.
Krushelnitsky was not with the curling team at the arena Monday.
Krushelnitsky’s fellow curlers were trying to make sense of the scandal, with some openly questioning whether Krushelnitsky had been slipped a banned substance without his knowledge. Russian Curling Federation president Dmitry Svishchev said it was possible someone spiked Krushelnitsky’s food or drink with meldonium, which was banned in 2016.
‘‘You'd never know if it was on purpose or by accident, but obviously that’s been banned for a year and a half and I can’t imagine that that was something that happened on purpose,’’ said John Shuster, the captain of the US men’s curling team. ‘‘So it’s just unfortunate, because I know them, we've played in the same mixed doubles tournaments of that team and they’re good people. . . . I hope that he has the spirit of curling in his heart like we all do.’’
The Russian women’s curling coach, Sergei Belanov, said there were no benefits to doping in curling, adding that he didn’t believe a young and ‘‘clever man’’ like Krushelnitsky would take a banned substance.
‘‘It’s stupid. But Alexander is not stupid, so I don’t believe it,’’ he said.
US Olympic curler Matt Hamilton, who played against Krushelnitsky and Bryzgalova in mixed doubles last week, said Krushelnitsky should lose his bronze medal from the event.
“I feel bad for the guy if he didn’t take it knowingly, but you’re responsible for what goes into your body, so I think they would have to strip him of his medal,” Hamilton said.
If Krushelnitsky and his wife are stripped of their medal, the fourth-place Norwegian team, which has already returned home, may get the bronze.
The doping violation could also affect Russian athletes’ chances of being allowed to march under their own flag at the Closing Ceremony.
It’s the second doping case of the PyeongChang Olympics after a Japanese short-track speedskater tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Ice dancer has costume slip
French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis’s costume came unhooked at the neckline, exposing her breast during her short program performance Monday. Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron had just started their routine when Papadakis said it was her ‘‘worst nightmare happening at the Olympics.’’
An NBC spokesman said the network has edited the video for future television broadcasts and online replays.
Papadakis and Cizeron are in second place behind Canadian stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir entering Tuesday’s free skate.
Virtue and Moir set the record for an ice dancing short program with 83.67 points. Papadakis and Cizeron scored 81.93. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are in third after a 77.75, two-hundredths of a point ahead of fellow Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani.
The US pair of Madison Chock and Evan Bates were in seventh place and still in medal contention despite Chock aggravating an injury during warm-ups.
Canada back in familiar spot
Canada earned a shot at its fifth straight gold medal in women’s hockey by beating the Olympic Athletes from Russia, 5-0, in a Monday semifinal in Gangneung.
For the third straight time, Canada will face the United States in the final.
‘‘Everyone’s plans are falling into place, and you have two great opponents at the end,’’ Canadian coach Laura Schuler said. ‘‘It’s awesome, on the world’s biggest stage, to have two powerhouses going for it at the end.’’
Former Boston University star Jennifer Wakefield scored twice and Shannon Szabados stopped 14 shots to lead Canada to its sixth Olympic gold-medal game — that’s every single one since women were added to the Winter Games in 1998.
Another former Terrier star, Marie Philip-Poulin, who scored the last two goals against the United States in Canada’s overtime win in Sochi, also scored on Monday.
Canada outshot Russia, 47-14.
The championship will be a rematch of the pool-play finale, which Canada won, 2-1, on Thursday.
US to face Dutch in team pursuit
The United States advanced to the semifinals of women’s team pursuit in speedskating. Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe, and Mia Manganello were timed in 2 minutes, 59.75 seconds and finished fourth in the quarterfinals. The Netherlands qualified fastest in an Olympic-record time of 2:55.61. Japan was second and Canada third. The United States will be paired against the Dutch in the semis on Wednesday . . . British short-track speedskater Elise Christie returned to training for the first time since a dramatic crash in the women’s 1,500 meters Saturday. X-rays on her right ankle showed soft tissue damage to her ankle but no broken bones. Christie hopes to compete in the 1,000-meter race Tuesday.