Kamila Valieva: Russian can compete at Winter Olympics, rules court, despite failed drugs test

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By Euronews  with AP
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, puts her hands on her head during a training session at the 2022 Winter Olympics
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, puts her hands on her head during a training session at the 2022 Winter Olympics   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva will be allowed to compete for a second gold medal at the Winter Olympics despite failing a pre-Games drug test.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Monday that the 15-year-old, the favourite for the women’s individual gold, does not need to be provisionally suspended ahead of a full hearing into her positive test for the heart drug trimetazidine. The positive test was on 25 December last year.

The Russian team can still aim for the first women’s figure skating podium sweep in Olympic history. The event starts with the short programme on Tuesday and concludes on Thursday with the free skate. Valieva is the favourite to win gold.

The ruling only addresses whether Valieva can keep skating before her case is resolved. It doesn’t decide the fate of the one gold medal that she has already won.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it's disappointed by the message the decision to allow Valieva to compete.

USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said athletes are being denied the right to know they're competing on a level playing field. She added that it's part of a systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stressed in a statement that the CAS ruling "is not a decision on whether Ms Valieva violated the anti-doping rules" but that "it was limited to the sole question of whether Ms Valieva could be provisionally suspended from the Olympic competition following a positive A-sample taken on 25 December 2021".

"The management of the case after this positive A-sample has not yet been concluded. Only after due process has been followed can it be established whether Ms Valieva infringed the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and would have to be sanctioned," it added.

Based on this, it has decided that "in the interest of fairness to all athletes", there will be no medal ceremony for the figure skating team event "as it would include an athlete who on the one hand has a positive A-sample, but whose violation of the anti-doping rules has not yet been established on the other hand," the IOC said.

No flower ceremony or medal ceremony will also be held in Women’s Single Skating competition if Valieva make the podium.

"The IOC will, in consultation with the athletes and NOCs concerned, organise dignified medal ceremonies once the case of Ms Valieva has been concluded," it added.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) welcomed the CAS ruling to lift Valieva's interim suspension as "absolutely justified", adding that it "fully complies with the general legal fundamental principles of fairness, good faith and proportionality".

"The Russian Olympic Committee had initially drawn particular attention to the issue of the timing of the testing of the sample at the Stockholm Anti-Doping Laboratory. This fact was also highlighted by the Panel in reaching its decision," it also said.

In a statement released last week, the ROC had highlighted that since December 25, Valieva had passed "numerous doping tests", including since arriving in Beijing.