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Russian curler who tested positive for PEDs at Winter Olympics is returning his bronze medal

Meldonium is the same drug Maria Sharapova was suspended for in 2016.

Medal Ceremony - Winter Olympics Day 5 Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Russian curling bronze medal winner Alexander Krushelnitskiy is returning his medal after testing positive for meldonium, a banned substance and performance-enhancing drug. The news comes in the wake of Russians being barred from competing under the nation’s flag due to widespread doping.

“We have signed a statement that indeed he did have (meldonium in the sample) and as a result we will give the medal back,” Russian Curling Federation spokeswoman Valentina Parinova told state TV channel Russia 1 as transcribed by Sports Illustrated.

Word comes as the International Olympic Committee is due to decide Saturday whether to formally reinstate the Russian team for the closing ceremony. Russia was banned from the PyeongChang Olympics over widespread doping at the Sochi Games four years ago, but 168 Russians including Krushelnitsky were allowed by the IOC to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” under the Olympic flag.

Krushelnitskiy and his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, won the bronze medal against Norway on Feb. 12. The IOC has stated publicly that it may allow Russian athletes to march under the country’s flag in the closing ceremony, provided officials and athletes adhered to IOC standards — and it’s unclear how a positive test would affect that possibility.

Meldonium, the drug which Krushelnitskiy allegedly tested positive for, sees widespread use throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. It is the same drug that tennis star Maria Sharapova tested positive for in 2016, which resulsted in her two-year suspension that was eventually reduced.

A metabolic modulator, meldonium is typically prescribed as a short-term treatment for heart conditions — but was used for extended periods of time throughout sports until it was banned.

Krushelnitskiy reportedly told Russian officials that he feared his drink was spiked with meldonium while training in Japan leading up to the games. The curler is reported to have said he suspects a teammate who was not selected for the games could have drugged him on purpose.