Kei Saito, a member of the Japanese short track speed skating team, is the first athlete to be suspended from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics for suspected doping after testing positive for acetazolamide, a drug commonly used to mask steroid usage, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Saito tested positive on both an A and B sample.
“I am extremely shocked by the test results that have come back,” the 21-year-old athlete told Kyoto News. “I have never once considered doping. I have never used anabolic steroids so I have never needed to try to hide it. I have no motive to use this substance nor do I have anything to gain by using this substance.”
Despite adamantly denying that he knowingly took illegal substances and vowing to prove his innocence, Saito has voluntarily left the Pyeongchang Olympic Village.
“We want to make it clear we have not admitted to a violation. I want to stress the ‘provisional’ part of this decision. We will offer him full support through this,” said Yasuo Saito, head of the Japanese Delegation.
Although this is the first case of suspected steroid use since the start of the 2018 games, Japan is not the only Olympic team affected by doping suspicions.
Russia was banned from the PyeongChang Olympics completely for alleged state-backed doping during the 2014 Sochi Games. Although the official Russian team is not present, some athletes have been allowed to compete under the title “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”