Nikolay Gulyayev made his international début at the 1986 European All-around Championships, where he surprised everyone by winning a silver at 1500 m, finishing fifth in all-around. The next season was probably Gulyayev's best. In December 1986 he won his only Soviet all-around title, with titles at the 500 m and 1,500 m distances. Then in January 1987, Gulyayev won the European All-around Championships, where he also won both the 500 and 1,500. After that he won the World All-around Championships with a new samalog record. At those World Championships he also won the 1500 m with a world record of 1:52.70 and won distance silvers in the 500 and 5,000. After the 1987 season Gulyayev was awarded the Oscar Mathiesen Trophy as the best speed skater of the year. Gulyayev was considered to be a favorite at the 1988 Winter Olympics in the sprints, but a month before the Games, he was caught trying to smuggle 700 capsules of Dianabol, an anabolic steroid, and because of this, did not defend his European and World titles. Since he never tested positive for steroid use, the IOC did not refuse Gulyayev's participation at the 1988 Winter Olympics, so he competed in Calgary, but under close scrutiny. At the Olympics, Gulyayev fell in the 500 m, won gold at 1,000 m, but was a disappointing seventh in the 1,500. After the 1988 Olympics, Gulyayev skated a few more seasons, but with less success, although he did won 500 m golds at the 1989 World and 1990 and 1991 European All-around Championships. He also tried his hand at the World Sprint Championships, his best finish seventh in 1992. Gulyayev won his third and last Soviet distance title in the 500 m in 1990 and he won CIS sprint title in 1992. After finishing his sporting career, Gulyayev worked as a speed skating coach in Russia and from 2002-06 was Vice President of the Russian Speed Skating Federation.
Personal Bests: 500 – 36.84 (1990); 1000 – 1:13.03 (1988); 1500 – 1:52.70 (1988); 5000 – 6:51.28 (1987); 10000 – 14:28.45 (1987).