Japanese Olympic Speedskater Kei Saito Suspended for Doping

Kei Saito of Japan trains during Short Track Speed Skating practice
Kei Saito of Japan trains during Short Track Speed Skating practiceKiyoshi Ota, Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito has been suspended from the 2018 Winter Games after testing positive for Acetalozamide, a banned diuretic, USA Today reports.

This is the first doping case of the PyeongChang Olympics.

The 21-year-old was a reserve speedskater for the 5,000-meter relay team. He hadn’t competed in any event before his pre-competition sample (conducted on Feb. 4) tested positive for the banned substance. Acetalozamide is a medication used to alleviate altitude sickness, and treat glaucoma and epilepsy; however, it can also be used to mask other banned substances, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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On Feb. 13, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced Saito “accepted on a voluntary basis to be provisionally suspended and to leave the Olympic Village.”

Its judging panel is handling any and all Olympic doping cases, and will issue a final verdict once the Games are over.

“I have never considered doping,” Saito said in a statement. “I have never used anabolic steroids so I have never needed to try to hide it. I do not want to be a disturbance to my teammates competing at the Olympic Games … and will leave the team and the athletes village voluntarily.”

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Japan’s delegation leader said: “At this point, all we know is that the sample A and sample B tested positive. It is impossible for us to submit any evidence that prove them otherwise during the limited time,” USA Today reports. “That is why we had to go with the provisional measure. The violation of the anti-doping rules has not been proven, so it is not decided yet. So please understand that point.”

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