The first doping suspension of the Winter Olympics is in, and it's not a Russian

Travis Mewhirter

The most interesting “country” in this year’s Winter Olympics is, to many, the ever-ambiguous Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR). The Russian Olympic Committee was notoriously banned for its doping scandal stemming from the 2014 Sochi Games — but then it also sort of wasn’t banned.

There are nearly 170 Russian competitors in this year’s Games, and if there were a doping violation at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games — which there was Tuesday — most would justifiably have pointed to one of those Olympic Athletes from Russia as the guilty party.

Only it wasn’t a Russian.

Kei Saito tested positive for doping on Tuesday and has left the Olympic Village.
Kei Saito tested positive for doping on Tuesday and has left the Olympic Village.

On Tuesday, Japanese speed skater Kei Saito was suspended after a positive doping test, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport reported that he accepted his suspension after a test showed signs of a masking agent.

Saito was set to compete in the men’s 5,000-meter relay on Wednesday. Instead, he will leave the Olympic Village on Tuesday.

It’s a rare blemish on a traditionally clean Japanese Olympic Committee, who had never had an athlete suspended due to doping.

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