Russian bobsleigh pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva has been banned from the Winter Olympics for doping – just a day before Olympic chiefs meet to discuss lifting sanctions on her country.
The International Olympic Committee banned Russia over “systemic” doping at Sochi 2014, which the country hosted.
However, 168 athletes who proved they were clean were allowed to compete as neutrals at the Pyeongchang Games.
Sergeeva is the second of those 168 to have failed a doping test.
The IOC’s executive board met on Saturday, when a discussion on whether to maintain or lift the suspension on Russia took place – a decision is now expected on Sunday.
Lifting the suspension would allow Russian athletes to parade with their national flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony.
However some feel that is now unlikely to happen, with Russian athletes producing two of the four failed doping tests in Pyeongchang.
“They were due to look at how we behaved here and decide, but as we’ve got two doping cases I don’t think they will allow us to be at the closing with the flag,” alpine skier Anastasia Silanteva told Reuters.
“Especially in light of the second doping offence, our position is that the flag should not come into the closing ceremony with the Russian team,” Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith said.
The neutral Olympic athletes from Russia (OAR) team won their first gold medal of the Games in South Korea on Friday.
That followed Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky being stripped of his bronze medal after being found guilty of doping.
The OAR team are the third biggest at the Games, behind Canada and the United States.
Sergeeva, 30, finished 12th in the two-woman bobsleigh event.
A Court of Arbitration for Sport panel met on Saturday to hear her case following her failed test.
“The athlete has accepted a provisional suspension beyond the period of the Games,” it said, adding that Sergeeva had admitted an anti-doping rule violation after testing positive for trimetazidine.
Trimetazidine is used to treat heart conditions but is also classed as a metabolic modulator by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it has performance-enhancing properties.
The Russian Bobsleigh Federation had earlier said Sergeeva had tested positive for “a heart drug” that “was not prescribed” by its medical team.
It added that a test on 18 February came back positive but a previous one on 13 February had showed a clean result.
“She doesn’t understand where she made a mistake,” said Russian bobsleigh official Sergei Zhurkin.
US biathletes to boycott Russian event
Meanwhile, members of the US biathlon team have announced that they will not take part in next month’s World Cup final – because it is being staged in Russia.
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) event is taking place in Tyumen, from 19-26 March and the US team said it was “completely unacceptable” to allow that nation to host the event as it sent “an outrageous message of anti-doping indifference to the world”.
“We fully support the right of clean Russian athletes to compete, and share the opinion that Russia should be eligible to host IBU World Cups in the future, but only after they have shown a meaningful commitment to rectifying the doping culture which has been shown to exist there,” a US team statement added.