Oleg Verniaiev, Olympic gymnastics champion, reveals reason behind his suspension

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Seven months after first being listed as provisionally suspended by the International Gymnastics Federation, Olympic champion Oleg Verniaiev has finally spoken up about his situation.

“The [Gymnastics Ethics Foundation] arbitration decided that the concentration of meldonium that was found in my body is sufficient to disqualify me for four years,” was posted to Verniaiev’s Instagram account on Monday, according to a translation.

“This means that I will not go to the Olympics,” the post continued.

Verniaiev was left off Ukraine’s Olympic team when it was announced last week.

The 27-year-old, who won the parallel bars Olympic title in Rio as well as silver in the all-around, will also miss the Paris Olympics in 2024 if the ruling is upheld.

According to the Instagram post, Verniaiev plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Why did this happen at a time when there were no serious international competitions and training was held in a lightweight mode? Why was only one test positive, and not one of the nearly a dozen subsequent tests that confirmed the presence of a prohibited substance?” he wrote.

The reigning world all-around bronze medalist been suspended since December 2020 with the reason unknown until now. The suspension is backdated to November 2020.

Meldonium, which is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is used in other nations to treat heart conditions. It was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances in January 2016, and soon after tennis great Maria Sharapova tested positive for the drug at the 2016 Australian Open.

Sharapova explained in a statement that she had been taking it for the past decade due to “several health issues” and was unaware it had been added to the WADA list earlier that month. The five-time Grand Slam winner served a 15-month suspension.

The Russian husband-and-wife mixed doubles curling team of Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksander Krushelnitsky was stripped of the 2018 Olympic bronze medal after Krushelnitskiy tested positive for meldonium during the PyeongChang Games.

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