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WINTER OLYMPICS

Norwegian curler wants case resolved after Russian drugs test fail

An athlete from Norway who finished fourth in the Olympic curling mixed doubles behind a Russian who then failed a drug test says he wants the situation resolved before the end of the Games.

Norwegian curler wants case resolved after Russian drugs test fail
Russian curlers Alexander Krushelnitsky and Anastasia Bryzgalova celebrate after beating Norway in the bronze medal match. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

Alexander Krushelnitsky's failed drug test shook the Pyeongchang Olympics on Monday, a week after he won bronze with his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

Now Norway's Magnus Nedregotten has called on organisers and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to expedite the process so he and partner Kristin Sasklien can learn if they have been promoted to third.

“Knowing that we may have been robbed and having to wait to see what happens is obviously emotional, and very stressful,” said Nedregotten, whose medal hopes were dashed after an 8-4 defeat by the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) pair.

“Firstly, he is not guilty before he is convicted,” he added. “All we know is it appears that he had an illegal substance in his body during competition.

“But (if guilty), the preferred option would be to receive the bronze medal at some point during the remainder of the Olympics. Receiving the medals this week would definitely be better than in a year's time.”

Nedregotten revealed his subsequent shock at learning that Krushelnitsky had tested positive for a banned substance.

“At first the main feelings were anger,” he said. “We've been struggling through the Olympics, trying hard to reach our goal, which was a medal.

“Now knowing that they may have had an advantage against us in our games through cheating, feels horrible,” added Nedregotten.

“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, that's hard to accept, feeling that you've been kept out of the light.”

A source told AFP he had taken the banned drug meldonium — the same substance that earned Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova a suspension.

It is designed to treat heart problems and diabetes and can increase endurance and recovery.

But many observers and even Olympic curlers themselves were stunned and asked what role performance-enhancing drugs could possibly have in the slow-moving sport.

Canada's Brent Laing said: “Beer and Advil are the only painkillers I've ever heard of for curling.”

Nedregotten, however, thinks otherwise.

“It could have benefited those guys (OAR) as they had a really late game when they lost their semi-final,” he said.

“Then they were playing early the next morning against us in the bronze match.

“I know in my case I would have liked to be more fresh in some of those games and have more energy, at least mentally.”

READ ALSO: 'Flying moustache' leads Norway to Olympic ski jump gold

WINTER OLYMPICS

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire

Norway's legendary biathlete Marit Bjørgen, who won a record eighth gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February, on Friday said she would call it quits at the age of 38.

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire
Norwegian biathlon legend Marit Bjørgen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“I don't feel I have the motivation required to give 100 percent for another season, that's why I'm quitting,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

“I thought it would be easier to say. I'm emotional. It has been an epoch in my life, over 20 years. So it's a bit special to say that this is my last season as an elite athlete,” she said.

Bjørgen underlined her status as an all-time great in the sport at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this year, when she grabbed a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medal, winning the 30km cross country to put Norway top of the final medals table.

The Olympian had earlier become the most successful winter games competitor of all time by finishing third in the team sprint free.

Her bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla put her on 14 Olympic medals, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has 13 in the biathlon.

Bjørgen is also the second most successful woman at either the Summer or Winter Games, trailing only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals.

She was showered with tributes from fellow athletes, and politicians, after the news broke on Friday.

“She was terribly important to me, she was my idol,” said Therese Johaug, a seven-time world champion and former Olympic gold medallist who was suspended after failing a drug test.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a role model, you made us jump with joy and scream with excitement,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.

Bjørgen claimed her first World Cup victory in Dusseldorf in October 2002 and her first Olympic medal (silver) in Salt Lake City the same year.

She gave birth to her first and only son, Marius, in 2015.

Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, enjoyed a barnstorming Winter Olympics, breaking the United States' 2010 record of 37 medals at a single winter games.

Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian in history, also announced his retirement this week, saying he would quit at the end of the season at the age of 44.

READ ALSO: 'We are not super-human': the secret to Norway's Olympic success