Russia’s appeasement mission to make it to the Olympic closing ceremony has been shaken by a new doping case while there were shocks on the PyeongChang ice as Germany qualified for their first-ever gold medal hockey game.
Nadezhda Sergeeva, who finished 12th in the two-woman bobsleigh, tested positive for a banned heart medication the day after Russia’s mixed doubles curling team was stripped of its bronze medal because Alexandr Krushelnitckii tested positive for meldonium.
Regardless of the details behind the violations, that is not a good look for a nation anxious to be welcomed back into the international fold.
On Saturday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meets to discuss lifting the suspension imposed on Russia for running a doping system within the country and at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Should the ban be lifted, Russia could be allowed to take place in Sunday’s closing ceremony in PyeongChang with its flag and national symbols restored.
“I hope this situation will not have an effect on the return of the Russian Olympic Committee to the IOC,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told a press conference in Moscow about Krushelnitckii’s case.
“This athlete was tested 11 times over the past two years. All those tests were negative.”
Two days ahead of the decision, Russia said it paid a fine of $US15m ($19m) levied as part of a range of sanctions handed down by the IOC late last year.
Germany stunned defending champions Canada to set up a gold medal game against the mighty Russians, who beat the Czech Republic 3-0 in Friday’s first semi-final.
“It’s unreal to get to play for gold,” German defenceman Frank Hordler said.
On the Australian front, skier Sami Kennedy-Sim was left cursing her equipment after a poor start ruined her chance to chase a medal in the women’s ski cross
The 29-year-old finished about two seconds behind the two qualifiers of her semi-final in PyeongChang after being unable to make up ground from a slow push-off.
After showing promise by leading her quarter-final from start to finish on Friday, Kennedy-Sim finished eighth after losing in the four-woman small final.
“Unfortunately I had a bit of bad luck with breaking my pole in the start and getting stuck,” she said.