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Norway, the Winter Olympic powerhouse, feels 'robbed' in curling doping scandal

Norway, which is dominating the medal count once again at the Winter Olympics, feels robbed of its “moment of glory.”

The Norwegian curling team of Magnus Nedregotten and Kristin Skaslien finished fourth in the tournament last week, falling to the Olympic Athletes from Russia, 8-4 in the bronze medal match. Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, though, was charged Monday with doping after testing positive for meldonium.

If it is confirmed, the International Olympic Committee will likely strip OAR of its curling medal, opening the door for the Norwegians to claim yet another medal in PyeongChang. And should they get that medal, they want it awarded in South Korea.

“Knowing that they may have had an advantage against us in our games through cheating feels horrible,” Negregotten told The Guardian. “If he is found guilty, then they’ve robbed us of our moment of glory, receiving our medal in the stadium. That’s not cool. That’s hard to accept, feeling that you’ve been kept out of the light.

“Obviously he is not guilty before he is convicted. But it is confirmed, the preferred option for us would be to receive the bronze medal at some point during the remainder of the Olympics.”

Many have been skeptical that doping would truly give curlers an advantage — as curling is by far the least physically demanding sport in the Winter Olympics.

Norway’s Kristin Skaslien, left, and Magnus Nedregotten watch during their mixed doubles curling match against the Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Negregotten, though, said he thinks it can impact the game more than some might think, even if it’s just a mental thing.

“We had so little time to recover, and it’s quite hard for a male sweeper in mixed doubles,” Negregotten said. “You have to follow and sweep every rock, and your muscles actually get quite sore and torn with all the work during that tight playing schedule. I know in my case I would have liked to be more fresh in some of those games and have more energy, at least mentally.

“It especially could have benefited the Russians as they had a really late game when they lost their semi-final, and then they were playing early the next morning against us in the bronze match.”

Krushelnitsky is the third athlete to be caught doping so far in PyeongChang. Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic and Japanese speed skater Kei Saito both tested positive for a banned substance and have been suspended from the games.

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