Pavel Kulizhnikov, 22, a speed skater from Moscow Province, has emerged as one of the world’s fastest humans on ice after besting an eight-year-strong 500m world record set by Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon.
Kulizhnikov showed promise as a teenage skating prodigy, but was disqualified at 17 because, he has claimed, of something that was in an energy drink he consumed without realizing the substance was illegal, which meant he missed Russia’s Olympic Games in Sochi. The mistake, however, did not set him back, and his return to the ice has been a whirlwind of successes, with two World Championship wins. He broke the world record twice as he improved on his own time and became the first person to finish the event in under 34 seconds.
After years of fending off doping allegations, Russia is facing the prospect of athletes being hit with lifetime bans and/or being stripped of medals won at previous competitions.
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