IOC investigating Russian speedskater who criticized doping ban after winning medal

Jack Baer

Russian speedskater Semen Elistratov had plenty to say after winning a bronze medal, and it looks those words might put him in hot water with the International Olympic Committee.

Elistratov registered a surprise third-place finish in the 1,500m short-track event on Saturday, competing as an Olympic Athlete from Russia. After the race, he dedicated the medal to the Russian athletes banned from the Games by the International Olympic Committee, according to a report from USA Today.

“I am incredibly happy that I did it, in spite of all the circumstances around Russian sport. I dedicate this medal to all guys that have been excluded from these Games in such a hard and unfair way. This medal is for you.”

Per USA Today, the IOC said in a briefing Sunday that it is now investigating those comments for possibly breaching the rules agreed to by the Olympic Athletes from Russia to compete in PyeongChang.

According to the Olympic conduct guidelines, OAR are to “respect the IOC Executive Board’s decision and spirit” and “refrain from any public form of publicity, activity and communication associated with the national flag, anthem, emblem and symbol.”

Semen Elistratov celebrates his bronze medal-winning performance. (Reuters)
Semen Elistratov celebrates his bronze medal-winning performance. (Reuters)

It is particularly intriguing that Elistratov is the athlete criticizing the ban here, as he did not enter PyeongChang with a completely clean past. Per CNN, he was one of several Russian athletes banned in 2016 for positive tests of meldonium. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s the substance that got Maria Sharapova banned from tennis for 15 months.

Elistratov’s ban was later overturned when it was determined he might have taken the substance before it was added to the banned substance list of the World Anti-Doping Agency, as slow metabolization of the drug could have caused the positive test after it was banned.

However many rules Elistratov might have broken, he is just one part of what has been a Russian presence in PyeongChang that the IOC might not be too happy with. Plenty of Russian fans with an axe to grind are at the Games to cheer on the 168 athletes cleared by the IOC and sent to the Games.

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