The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) signalled that Russian athletes cleared to compete at the Winter Games will come in for heavy scrutiny after whisking more than half the women’s ice hockey team away for testing shortly before a training session.
Russian television network RT quoted head coach Aleksey Chistyakov as saying on Monday that a practice session had been interrupted by the tests after they arrived in South Korea.
“The team had an exhausting journey, our luggage was delayed and we were late for an evening training session,” he said.
“We were forced to conduct a short-handed practice as more than half of the team was taken by the doping officers and the girls were late for training.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russia from Pyeongchang over “systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system in Sochi four years ago but left the door open for athletes with no history of doping to compete as neutrals.
It later invited 169 Russian athletes who met that criteria to participate in the Pyeongchang Games in a team officially known as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” (OAR).
The OAR women’s ice hockey team will play in Group A at the Feb. 9-25 Games alongside Canada, Finland and the United States.