Gymnast Oleg Verniaiev absent from Olympics after doping ban

Olympic champion gymnast Oleg Verniaiev says he will miss the Tokyo Games because he was banned after a failed doping test

KYIV, Ukraine – Olympic champion gymnast Oleg Verniaiev is set to miss the Tokyo Games after being banned after a failed doping control.

The Ukrainian gymnast said in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium and was banned after a ruling from the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation, which hears disciplinary cases in the sport.

Verniaiev denies any wrongdoing and said he will appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“The main question is, how did a prohibited substance get into my body?” hey wrote. “Why did this happen at a time when there weren’t any serious international competitions and there was only slight training?”

Verniaiev won gold on parallel bars at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and was an all-around silver medalist, in a dramatic and close loss to Japan’s Kohei Uchimura. Since then his competitive appearances have been limited by injuries and now his ban, despite winning all-around bronze at the last world championships in 2019.

The FEM and the International Gymnastics Federation did not comment on the case.

Meldonium is a heart medicine developed in the then Soviet Union and was banned in sports from 2016.

It is also the substance that deprived Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky of a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Two Russian rowers were removed from their country’s Olympic team last week after testing positive for meldonium.

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