Russia took defensive action this week in the face of the ongoing doping scandal. Afraid of possible positive tests for Meldonium, the country has withdrawn numerous athletes from international competition. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the AP of the action.
Concurrently, the Russian under 18 National Hockey team, which was due to compete in the World Championship, was replaced. The team, which was due to compete in the IIHF World U18 Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was replaced by a younger team.
Two other teams or players were notably withdrawn, one by the Russian Federation and one privately. The National Curling team was replaced at the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Russian professional Volleyball team Gazprom Yugra dropped several players from its roster despite competing in the European Volleyball Federation Cup.
Mutko did not make a direct connection between any of these moves and the fear of positive Meldonium tests. When asked, Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak gave a vague reasoning of “tactics” for their withdrawal. Tretiak, who played goalie for Russia when they lost the famed “Miracle on Ice” game to the United States in 1984, did his best to deflect the controversy. Mutko, meanwhile, did admit that use of the drug was widespread among Russian athletes.
The news is just the latest development in an ongoing scandals unfurling in both Russia and China. Last week, we recapped all the developments in both countries with links to our continuing coverage. The story continues to make doping news bigger than it has ever been with just months to go until Rio.