Japanese speed skater tested positive for doping at Pyeongchang Olympics

By AFP   February 12, 2018 | 07:38 pm PT
Japanese speed skater tested positive for doping at Pyeongchang Olympics
South Korea's Seo Yira (L) and Japan's Kei Saito taking part in the men's 1,500m short track speed skating heat event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Gangneung. Photo by AFP/Mladen Antonov
Kei Saito is the first doping case of the Games to be found.​

Japanese short-track speed skater Kei Saito has tested positive for a banned drug at the Pyeongchang Olympics, the first doping case of the Games, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday.

Saito, 21, failed an out-of-competition test prior to the event, the anti-doping authority said in a statement, adding that he tested positive for acetazolamide, a banned diuretic which is considered a masking agent.

The CAS statement said Saito had left the athletes' Olympic Village voluntarily and would be provisionally suspended from the Olympics and other competitions pending a full investigation.

Saito, a human biology student whose sister Hitomi is also competing in Pyeongchang, becomes the first Japanese athlete to test positive for doping at a Winter Olympics, according to Japanese reports.

The Japanese Olympic Committee called a press conference in Pyeongchang Tuesday to address the doping case which is an embarrassment to Japan, the organizers of the next Olympics, the Summer Games in 2020.

Saito was a member of Japan's 3,000m relay team that finished third at the 2013 and 2014 world junior championships.

He competed on Saturday in the short track speed skating 1,500 meters but was eliminated in the heats.

He was penciled in as a substitute for the 5,000m on Tuesday.

The IOC and anti-doping authorities have stepped up testing for the Pyeongchang Games following revelations of a state-sponsored doping scheme at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

The entire Russian team was banned from Pyeongchang but a loophole allowed 168 "clean" athletes to compete as independent athletes under a neutral flag.

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