Japanese Saito tests positive in first doping case in Winter Olympics

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Japanese speed skater Kei Saito tested positive for a masking agent, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced.

"I do understand athletes should not do any doping and even unintentionally".

Saito won a bronze medal in the 3,000-meter relay at the 2013 world junior championships.

He said it was "inexplicable" how the athlete could have tested positive but in order not to burden his teammates he agreed with the International Olympic Committee proposal to have him removed from the Games. The following evening, the International Olympic Committee notified the JOC the B sample also came back positive.

Saito added that for the sake of the Japanese team he had made a decision to leave the athletes' village.

Saito added that, although he wanted to prove his innocence, he did not want to burden his team, which is why he chose to leave, BBC noted. "That is why we had to go with the provisional measure".

He competed on Saturday in the short track speed skating 1,500 metres but was eliminated in the heats.

While Japan has had a relatively clean image and record with respect to doping, the nation, which is also putting its hand up for the 2026 Winter Games with Sapporo, has been hit with a recent spate of infringements.

Japan's short track coach Tsutomu Kawasaki said he has a hard time believing Saito tried to cheat.

This is the first doping case during the testing period of the Olympics in South Korea and comes as Tokyo prepares to host the Summer Games in 2020.

The 21-year-old is the first Japanese to test positive at a Winter Games and he was immediately thrown out of the competition on Monday.

Only 168 Russian athletes were "invited" to participate by the IOC under an Olympic flag as a result of two separate investigations, run by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, into alleged doping violations by individual Russian athletes led by former IOC member Denis Oswald and by the Russian state as a whole.

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