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Yuri van Gelder

Dutch gymnast Yuri van Gelder had a strong start to his Olympics, earning a spot in the rings final, but won’t get a chance to compete for a medal in the event after he was sent back home for drinking alcohol.

Van Gelder left the Olympic Village after his performance in the preliminaries on Saturday and returned on Sunday, according to the Netherlands Olympics Committee (NOC). Upon his return he admitted he drank alcohol, which is against the rules for Dutch athletes.


“It was a very difficult decision for us to make,” NOC spokesman Maurits Hendriks said in a statement. “This is terrible for Yuri, but at such a breach of the values within TeamNL, we have no other choice. We stand for excellence with respect to all agreements and rules. Our athletes have an exemplary standard and this behavior is absolutely unacceptable. Yuri has left us no choice.”

The seemingly harsh application of the rules and decision to send Van Gelder home may have been influenced some by the gymnast’s history. He tested positive for cocaine in 2009 and the subsequent suspension made him ineligible for the 2012 Olympics.

It has already been an unfortunate first few days for the Netherlands in the Olympics. Cyclist Annamiek van Vleuten was leading the women’s road race on Sunday when she suffered a horrific crash that caused three spinal fractures and a concussion.

The race was won instead by another Dutch cyclist, Anna van der Breggen, the only medal of the Summer Games so far for the Netherlands.

Van Gelder narrowly edged Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov in the rings on Saturday, earning the eighth spot in next week’s final. Radivilov already replaced France’s Samir Ait Said in the final due to a gruesome leg injury, so Van Gelder’s spot will instead go to France’s Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues who finished tenth in the event.

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