BY CHRIS LEHOURITES
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — A Slovenian hockey player who became the third athlete to be caught doping at the Pyeongchang Olympics said Tuesday he tested positive for an asthma drug that he took under doctor’s orders and he had forgotten to seek approval for its use.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol in an in-competition test. Fenoterol is a drug designed to open the airways to the lungs.
“I take the mentioned drug due to asthma under medical advice,” Jeglic said in a statement, adding he was tested on Friday. “It has been prescribed to me after testing for respiratory problems in Slovakia in 2017. Unfortunately I have forgot to declare it as (a therapeutic use) exception.”
Jeglic was suspended from the games and has been ordered to leave the athletes village within 24 hours.
“I have overlooked the difference between comparable drugs, which are allowed and would enable me to use it for my respiratory problems during the Olympics,” he said. “I apologize for my negligence to all the persons involved and I accept the further anti-doping procedures.”
Slovenia lost to Norway 2-1 in overtime in men’s hockey on Tuesday and was eliminated from the Olympic tournament. Jeglic was scratched from the team ahead of the announcement about his positive test.
The 29-year-old forward played in all three preliminary-round games and had an assist. He also scored the winner in a shootout as Slovenia beat Slovakia 3-2 on Saturday, a day after he gave his sample to testers.
“He’s a big part of our team. We were kind of disappointed and a little upset that he won’t be able to play, but we don’t really know what the situation is,” Slovenia captain Jan Mursak said after the loss to Norway. “Ziga’s a great guy, big part of that team, great team guy, so I’m sure whatever the problem is, it’s going to get fixed and Ziga’s going to be fine.”
This is the second consecutive international tournament from which Jeglic has been suspended. He was banned for two games at the world championships last year for swinging his skate at Switzerland winger Thomas Rufenacht.
“He’s one of the better players, better offensive players,” Mursak said. “Every guy counts on our team, and to lose a guy like that in such an important game means a lot to our team.”
In the Kontinental Hockey League, Jeglic plays for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. He has two goals and four assists in 26 games this season.
Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito failed a pre-competition test in Pyeongchang and Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won a bronze medal, tested positive during the games. Late Tuesday, the delegation of the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” said Krushelnitsky’s “B” sample had also tested positive for the banned substance meldonium but the results suggested he had only consumed it once — not enough to indicate intent to enhance his performance.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Gangneung contributed to this report.
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