Japanese speedskater banned from Olympics for alleged doping

Japanese speedskater banned from Olympics for alleged doping

- in US

The Winter Olympic Games lost its first athlete to a doping suspension on Tuesday after Japanese short track speedskater Kei Saito was found to have tested positive for a chemical used to mask the presence of banned drugs, the Court for Arbitration for Sport said.

Saito, 21, who had been scheduled to take part Wednesday in heats for the men’s 5,000-meter relay event, voluntarily accepted a provisional suspension and was ordered to leave the Olympic village in PyeongChang, South Korea, the international sports court said. He is barred from competing at the Olympics and any other International Skating Union events “pending the resolution of this matter,” it said.

The court said Saito tested positive for Acetazolamide, a diuretic most commonly prescribed for glaucoma, during an out-of-competition test. Acetazolamide is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances because it has been used by elite athletes to mask banned performance-enhancing substances.

Image: Kei Saito

Kei Saito of Japan, left, during a 500-meter short track speedskating race at the winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, in January 2012.