Winter Olympics: Japan short track skater Saito fails doping test

Japanese short-track speed skater Kei Saito trains during official practice for the Pyeongchang Olympics in Gangneung South Korea. — KYODO

The Japanese Olympic Committee said Saito was tested after training on 4 February, just before he went to bed in the athletes village.

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 worldwide sports court said.

Saito, who has protested his innocence, was due to make his first Pyeongchang appearance in the men's 5,000m relay on Tuesday. An out-of-competition test came back positive for a diuretic called acetalozamide, though, and Saito was forced to leave Korea without participating in a race.

"At this point, all we know is that the sample A and sample B tested positive".

Saito has been given a provisional suspension from professional skating while an investigation into the positive drugs test is carried out. "I have never used anabolic steroids so I have never needed to try to hide it", he said.

Saito has reportedly denied any wrongdoing.

"I have never thought about using illegal substances", he said.

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Doping - the use of drugs, hormones and other substances to gain a competitive advantage - has shadowed global sports for decades.

It is the first registered case to CAS by the International Olympic Committee at these games.

Saito, who left the Olympic Village when told of the news, said he was stunned by the failed test.

"So I have no motivation to use this".

It only took a few days to reveal the first positive doping test of the Winter Olympics. The violation of the anti-doping rules has not been proven, so it is not decided yet.

He added that while the suspension was only provisional it was better for the athlete to leave as there was no time to clear his name.

At a press conference Japanese officials said that Saito maintains there is no way the substance could have entered his body after he passed the test on 29 January.

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