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Oleg Verniaiev, Olympic gymnastics champion from Ukraine, has suspension reduced

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 11

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine celebrates winning the gold medal in the Parallel Bars Final on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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Oleg Verniaiev, a 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion for Ukraine, had a four-year doping ban reduced to two years, making him eligible to compete immediately.

Verniaiev, 29, tested positive for meldonium on Aug. 26, 2020, and was provisionally banned Nov. 5 of that year before a four-year ban was handed down on July 12, 2021, backdated to Nov. 5, 2020.

Verniaiev appealed the ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which halved it after a December hearing. Verniaiev said the source of the meldonium was contaminated food products, according to CAS.

“It was a long process, during which I proved that I had no intention to doping,” Verniaiev posted on social media Tuesday. “The court reduced the sanction twice. This suggests that the court agreed with my arguments and confirmed that meldonium got into my body without my fault or negligence.”

Had the ban not been reduced, Verniaiev would have been ineligible for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Verniaiev questioned the ban in July 2021, posting on social media, “Why was only one test positive, and not one of the nearly a dozen subsequent tests that confirmed the presence of a prohibited substance?”

Verniaiev won the 2016 Olympic parallel bars gold medal and all-around silver medal. He missed all-around gold in Rio by one tenth of a point to Japanese Kohei Uchimura.

He won the 2019 World all-around bronze medal, then missed the Tokyo Olympics during his ban.

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