Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva cleared to compete at Olympics despite doping cloud

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva cleared to compete at Olympics despite doping cloud
Kamila Valieva of Russia performs in the singles skating short programme at the Beijing Olympics on 6 February 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / How Hwee Young)

Sport’s highest court has cleared 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to compete in her next Olympic event, but the teenager’s doping charge that has rocked the Beijing Games remains unresolved.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in a statement on its website on Monday that it had upheld an earlier decision by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) to lift a ban on Valieva.

The skating prodigy was on the Beijing ice half an hour after the CAS ruling, executing a flawless run-through of the short programme she will skate in Tuesday’s women’s singles.

“Let’s go, Kamila!” Russian ice dancer Nikita Katsalapov said at the adjacent Capital Indoor Stadium after winning a silver medal and learning about the decision.

CAS cited the fact that Valieva was a “protected person” under World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules as one of the “exceptional circumstances” underpinning its decision.

Preventing Valieva from competing at the Olympics would have caused the teenager irreparable harm, CAS said in its ruling.

The figure skater is one of the youngest athletes to face a doping charge during an Olympics, prompting global outrage at the role of the adults around her, and the continuing scourge of Russian doping in international sports.

“This appears to be another chapter in the systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” US Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement released after the decision.

Doping not addressed

The CAS ruling did not address the merits of Valieva’s drug case. That now sits in the hands of Wada, which has not given a timeline for adjudicating her case. Many fear it will not be resolved by the end of the Games.

Wada did not respond to Reuters emails.

“Only time will tell if she (Valieva) should be competing in these Games and whether or not all of her results will be disqualified,” US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said.

Earlier, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the awarding of medals for the team event cannot go ahead until the doping case is addressed.

It is not clear whether other members of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team can receive gold medals. The second-placed US and Japan in third are also waiting in the wings. Canada finished fourth.

“That will probably not be sorted out during this Games and that is something regrettable, but we have to follow the process,” Adams said.

The women’s singles start with the short programme on Tuesday and conclude on Thursday with the free skating.

It was not clear if Valieva finished in the top three whether that medal ceremony would also go ahead by the end of the Games.

Kamila Valieva of Russia performs during the singles free skating event at the Winter Games in Beijing on 7 February 2022. (EPA-EFE/How Hwee Young)

Late notification

Valieva tested positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine on 25 December at the Russian National Championships, but the result was not revealed until 8 February after she competed in the team event at the Winter Games, dazzling the world with the first quad jumps ever completed in the women’s Olympic competition.

CAS emphasised the “serious issues of untimely notification of the results” in its decision.

“Such late notification was not her fault, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games,” the ruling said.

Tygart said it was another case of Russia not following the rules.

“In addition to athletes and the public, this young athlete has been terribly let down by the Russians and the global anti-doping system that unfairly cast her into this chaos,” he said.

Twice Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir was one of several athletes who took to social media to disagree with the decision to let Valieva’s Games go on.

Former Olympic champion Tara Lipinski posted on Twitter: “At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete.

“Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.” Reuters/DM


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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Chris Green says:

    LOL – and in 2054 a 3 eared, 13 fingered, single nostrilled 47 year old will be asked to hand out the medals at the Climate Change games in the Antartic – no prizes for who it might be !!
    When admin people think their process is more important than the spirit and integrity of the sport and its individuals SAD

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