Moldovan canoeist Serghei Tarnovschi will officially be stripped of his Olympic bronze medal after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed his appeal against a four-year doping ban.
Tarnovschi finished in third place in the men’s C1 1,000 metres canoe sprint event at Rio 2016, but a pre-event test uncovered the presence of banned substance GHRP-2.
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) imposed a four-year suspension on Tarnovschi.
However, the Moldovan claimed that he unintentionally ingested the substance when appealing the ICF ruling to CAS.
The 20-year-old Ukrainian-born athlete stressed he was not at fault as he had accidentally consumed the prohibited substance from a contaminated supplement, with his lawyer arguing his sanction should be reduced to months rather than years.
His suggestion has been refuted by CAS, who found Tarnovschi "did not successfully prove the absence of intent in connection with his anti-doping rule violation simply by proffering the above theory without any corroborating evidence".
"Accordingly, CAS has dismissed the appeal filed by the athlete and confirmed the ICF’s decision of January 30, 2017 imposing a period of ineligibility of four years on the athlete and the disqualification of all results obtained from July 8, 2016 onwards, including the bronze medal won in the men's canoe C1 1,000m competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games," a CAS statement said.
The announcement will come as a disappointment to both Tarnovschi and his National Federation, who had hoped he would be able to keep his medal.
It was the only podium finish achieved by a Moldovan athlete at the Games in the Brazilian city.
Russia's Ilia Shtokalov finished fourth in the C1 men's 1,000m event and is now set to be upgraded to the bronze medal.
Tarnovschi had also been due to participate in the C2 men's 1,000m race at the Games with his brother Oleg.
The canoeist was unable to compete in the event, having been placed under a provisional suspension by the ICF.
"It is always disappointing to suspend athletes in our sport, but this decision is in line with the ICF’s continued hardline on doping cheats in our sport,” ICF secretary general Simon Toulson said.
“It is another message to athletes wishing to cheat in our sport that they are not welcome, and when caught will be dealt with to the maximum of our ability.
“We have hundreds of elite athletes all over the world who strive legally every day to make themselves as competitive as possible.
“The original ruling of the ICF, confirmed overnight by the CAS, should send a message to drug cheats and clean athletes alike; there is no place in international canoeing for anyone who thinks they can cheat the system.”