Norway curler: 'Moment of glory' stolen by accused Russian doper

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- A Norwegian curler who lost out on the Olympic bronze medal to a Russian rival charged with doping said Tuesday that he feels robbed of his moment of glory.

Magnus Nedregotten and Kristin Skaslien finished fourth in mixed doubles last week after losing 8-4 to Alexander Krushelnitsky and his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday that Krushelnitsky failed a doping test. Russian officials said he tested positive for meldonium, which was banned in 2016.

In a telephone interview from Norway, Nedregotten said that if Krushelnitsky is found guilty, then "they've robbed us of our moment of glory, receiving our medal in the stadium."

"That's not cool," Nedregotten said. "That's hard to accept, feeling that you've been kept out of the light."

Nedregotten and Skaslien were visibly distressed when they lost out on the bronze to the Russian pair. In an interview with The Associated Press after the match, Skaslien said she and Nedregotten had struggled to keep up with the Russians, who led from the start. True to curling's strict adherence to good sportsmanship, Skaslien also made a point to compliment the Russians on their performance, saying they had played a very good match.

The Norwegians' feelings toward the Russians have soured since then, with Nedregotten saying Tuesday that he and Skaslien were angry when they first heard that Krushelnitsky had tested positive.

"That we've been struggling through the Olympics and trying hard to reach our goal, which was a medal, and then we ended up in fourth -- and now knowing that they may have had an advantage against us in our games through cheating -- feels horrible," Nedregotten said.

The Russian delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics said a second sample from Krushelnitsky has tested positive for meldonium.

"We express our sincere regret over the fact of the incident," the delegation said in a statement while noting results indicate Krushelnitsky consumed meldonium only once.

The second sample was from the same day as the first. The samples are split into two bottles and tested separately to make sure lab equipment error doesn't result in a false positive.

"The circumstances of the case do not provide any answers to the questions as to how and when meldonium could have gotten into the athlete's body," the delegation said, noting that it didn't make any sense considering a pre-Games sample taken from Krushelnitsky on Jan. 22 and all previous tests were negative. "In order to achieve any anticipated therapeutic or other effect by using such a substance like meldonium it should be taken on a regular basis, causing its metabolites to retain in the body for a period of up to 9 months after the last intake."

Russians are participating at the Pyeongchang Games as Olympic Athletes from Russia. The International Olympic Committee suspended the Russian Olympic Committee last year in connection with a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games but allowed 168 athletes to compete in neutral uniforms and without the national flag.

Krushelnitsky is likely to lose his medal because of the positive test, Russian Curling Federation senior vice president Andrei Sozin told the AP.

"I think that the sanctions will be that the medals will be taken away," Sozin said.

"Curling players don't need meldonium. We don't need to be faster, higher, stronger. This isn't what we do," Sozin added. "But how to explain what they have found in Alexander's blood -- he's an absolutely honest athlete and a great guy -- no one, including the athlete himself, understands."

Sozin said he believed U.S. security services had somehow "put something" into Krushelnitsky's water or tampered with his drug test sample. Sozin didn't speculate on how that could have happened.

Russian curling officials have previously suggested that Krushelnitsky could have been set up by a rival Russian athlete or Russia's political enemies. The Russians said Tuesday they want to open a criminal investigation to find out who could have caused this positive result.

"[The Russian Olympic Committee] has initiated a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances which also includes the criminal investigation under the [Russian federation] criminal law to establish the facts of the case in detail," the Olympic delegation said in a statement.

The Russian delegation went to lengths to say that is taking the fight against doping seriously and used that fight as the reason for the criminal investigation.

"We fully share and support the WADA and the IOC's zero tolerance attitude to doping and take all the required measures so that the offenders bear the utmost responsibility for that," the delegation said. "That's why we are committed to carry out the aforementioned investigation and to find the actual reasons of this doping case."

The CAS said no date has been set for the curler's hearing.

If Krushelnitsky is found guilty, Nedregotten said he and Skaslien would prefer to receive their medal during the Olympics.

"There hasn't been a day since the Olympics where I haven't thought about coming fourth," Nedregotten said. "And now knowing that we may have been robbed and having to sit at home and wait to see what happens is obviously emotional and very stressful."