Japan's Kei Saito becomes first Pyeongchang athlete to receive doping ban

Kei Saito during practice for the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang last week

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.

The first positive doping test has been produced at the 2018 Winter Olympics after Japanese short-track speedskater Kei Saito returned a sample that had traces of a banned diuretic in is.

Saito, 21, who had been scheduled to take part Wednesday in heats for the men's 5,000-meter relay event, voluntarily accepted a provisional suspension and was ordered to leave the Olympic village in PyeongChang, South Korea, the global sports court said.

Saito, a reserve on the 5,000-meter relay team, did not race in any event before the test result from a pre-competition sample was confirmed. "I still can not fathom how his test results came back positive".

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In October, a university wrestler tested positive for a banned substance, drawing a two-year ban and the month before that, a collegiate swimmer also tested positive and was hit with a seven-month suspension.

Japan's short track speed skating head coach Tsotomu Kawasaki added: "I feel the same way as the athlete: I am surprised and dismayed, this is all I can say about this". The following evening, the International Olympic Committee notified the JOC the B sample also came back positive. "I have never used anabolic steroids so I have never needed to try to hide it", Saito said in the statement.

Saito said he was innocent of any wrongdoing and had been tested prior to the Games, on January 29, and been found to be drug-free.

Masking agents are often used to cover up banned performance-enhancing substances.

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"I have never once considered doping". Saito has been tested positive for doping and he vows to prove his innocence. "I want to prove my innocence but I do not want to burden my team so I accepted this decision", he said. "I have no merit and motivation for using this drug".

The Japanese Olympic Committee plans to provide more details on Tuesday.

"The revelation will be a major embarrassment to Japanese sports, which has long prided itself on its clean image and will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo", Rogers wrote.

Russia was banned from the PyeongChang Games entirely in December as punishment for alleged state-backed doping at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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