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Russian curler banned four years in Olympic doping case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Russian curling medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky was banned for four years Tuesday in a doping case which cost Russia the right to fly its flag at the Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony.

Krushelnitsky won the bronze medal in mixed doubles with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova — the first medal for Russian athletes at the PyeongChang Games — but they were stripped of the result after he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Krushelnitsky argued that he was spiked with meldonium by an unnamed third party but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the “arguments were not supported by reliable or credible evidence.”

CAS didn’t give Krushelnitsky any reduction on the standard four-year ban because he “could not establish that his use of meldonium was non-intentional.”

Russian athletes were not allowed to compete under their own flag in PyeongChang as punishment for past doping offenses. They had to pass extra vetting before the games and competed in neutral uniforms as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Krushelnitsky’s doping case and another involving a bobsledder helped delay the lifting of the sanction until after the Closing Ceremony.

Russian Curling Federation president Dmitry Svishchev said Krushelnitsky planned to appeal.

“We disagree utterly with the ruling issued against our athlete and will wholeheartedly continue to support and defend his rights and to demand new investigations in this case both in Russia and abroad,” he said in a statement.

Krushelnitsky has 21 days to appeal the ruling.

The other Russian who tested positive in PyeongChang, bobsled pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva, accepted an eight-month ban in October. In that case, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation accepted her positive test for the heart medication was because she consumed a contaminated product.

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IOC revokes shooting event status over Pakistan visa refusal

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has revoked the Olympic qualification status of a 25-meter shooting event in New Delhi because Indian officials refused to grant entry visas to two Pakistani athletes and an official.

The IOC said Thursday it was informed on Monday that the Indian government authorities did not grant entry visas to the Pakistani delegation for the 25-meter rapid-fire pistol event at the ISSF World Cup, where two places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics were meant to be at stake.

The IOC said it only withdrew the Olympic qualification status from the competition in which the two Pakistani athletes were supposed to participate. There are 500 athletes from 61 countries who are already in India for other World Cup events.

“Since becoming aware of the issue, and in spite of intense last-minute joint efforts by the IOC, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) and the Indian NOC (National Olympic Committee), and discussions with the Indian government authorities, no solution has been found to allow the Pakistani delegation to enter India in time to compete,” the IOC said in a statement.

It did not say whether Pakistani athletes were entered in any other events at the competition.

In a statement to the Press Trust of India news agency, Rajeev Mehta, the secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association, said Friday the IOA would approach the government again about the visas.

“It is a dangerous situation for all sport in the county,” Mehta was quoted as saying. “In addition to not being able to host events in India, there may be problems for our athletes to take part in international events.”

The IOC said the situation goes against the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter to not discriminate against any athlete.

The visa refusal comes amid escalated tensions between the two countries following last week’s deadly suicide bombing in Kashmir against Indian paramilitary troops. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in Thursday’s attack, which New Delhi blamed on Islamabad.

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the two but claimed by each in its entirety.

Yevgenia Medvedeva wins Russian figure skating event to revive Worlds hope

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VELIKY NOVGOROD, Russia — Yevgenia Medvedeva beat Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in the Russian Cup final on Friday and boosted her hopes of a dramatic return to the Russia team for the world championships.

Despite a fall in the free skate, last year’s Olympic silver medalist scored 222.90 points to beat Tuktamysheva by just 1.71.

Medvedeva has struggled this season after moving to Canada to train, while Tuktamysheva started strongly in the autumn but was then hospitalized with pneumonia.

The Russian Cup was widely considered an unofficial skate-off for Russia’s third world championship slot next month alongside Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova and European champion Sofia Samodurova.

The skater likely to lose her spot is Stanislava Konstantinova, who followed up fourth at the European championships with another fourth-place finish on Friday.

MORE: Medvedeva’s coach Brian Orser says they’re on stand-by for Worlds spot

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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