Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been cleared to compete in the Winter Olympics despite allegations of doping.
The 15-year-old was told it would be unfair to have her banned from the Olympics by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after almost six hours of video interrogation in Beijing.
Olympic leaders have challenged the decision of the Russian disciplinary anti-doping committee to lift the ban against the teenager after a clinic tested positive for doping.
The court stated, “Based on the very limited facts of this case and after considering the relevant legal issues, it has decided that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the athlete.”
It was decided that the athlete is a “protected person” in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
It added: “The Commission considered the basic principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm and the relative balance of interests between the applicants and the athlete.”
Kamila Valieva has been cleared to continue competing in the free skate at the Winter Olympics despite testing positive for a banned substance after winning the gold medal. She is shown competing on February 7 in the event that won her the gold medal.
It was decided that she “did not test positive during the Beijing Olympics and is still subject to substantive disciplinary proceedings following a positive anti-doping test conducted in December 2021.”
“The Commission considered that the exclusion of an athlete from participation in the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances.”
However, the delay in obtaining the result also played into her hands.
“The CAS Panel also highlighted the existence of serious issues related to the late notification of the results of the Athlete’s anti-doping test results in December 2021, which prevented the Athlete from establishing certain legal requirements in her favor, while such late notification was not her fault, in the midst of Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022.
The US was supposed to get the gold and Japan the silver if Russia was against it.
It turned out that the 15-year-old Muscovite was taking the illegal drug trimetazidine, which is commonly used to prevent angina pectoris, but also increases endurance and physical performance.
A Russian bobsledder and a Chinese swimmer served their suspension after testing positive.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision came after three investigators met with the teenage athlete, the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency via video link in Beijing for nearly six hours of interrogation.
The challenge was thrown by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The arbitrators were Fabio Iidika from Italy, Jeffrey Bentz from the USA and Dr. Vesna Bergant Rakocevich from Slovenia.
But the revelations will once again bring Russian sport into disrepute and cause some embarrassment among Olympic officials.
Russia is under an Olympic ban and its clean athletes are allowed to compete under the flag of its Olympic Commission.
But the main question Olympic officials will want answered is how a 15-year-old girl came to be guilty of doping and who is responsible for this offense because she is a minor.
Athletes and anti-doping authorities have criticized Russia for the “ill-treatment” of the teenage figure skater and called on her coaches to be “permanently removed from the sport.”
Valieva tested positive on February 8 — the day after taking gold in the team event — in a urine sample taken on December 25. It was approved by the Moscow Anti-Doping Agency.
Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said that Valieva is “offended by the Russian state system” and that “this poor young woman deserves better.”
Katarina Witt, a two-time gold figure skater from Germany, went even further, calling on all “responsible adults” around Valieva to be kicked out of the sport “forever”, adding that her heart “cries endlessly” for the teenager.
Rob Koehler, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, lashed out at the Olympic Games governing bodies for not taking tougher action against Moscow when a state-sponsored doping scheme was uncovered in 2016.
Valieva is now the favorite to win the remaining free skating events she intends to compete in, although a decision to void last week’s gold has not been made until a full investigation is completed.
Valieva was captured during the ceremony of presenting the gold medal, which can now be taken away from her.
After the scandal, Russia was officially banned from participating in the Olympics, but it was allowed to get around the ban by sending athletes as part of the “Russian Olympic Committee” under a neutral flag.
“Unless Russia was banned for four years, the Russian authorities had neither the need nor the desire to change the culture,” Koehler said.
“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have prioritized the power and influence of Russian sport over pure sport.”
Valieva, one of Russia’s most promising Winter Olympics competitors, carried medal hopes with her with multiple goals as she flew from her training base in Moscow to Beijing for the Games.
One of those hopes she fulfilled a week ago when she won gold in the team figure skating event, becoming the first woman in the Olympics to land a quadruple jump, a feat she repeated twice in the same routine.
But her future was called into question a day later when a WADA lab in Sweden found trimetazidine in her urine.
The sample was collected on December 25 during the Russian figure skating competition in St. Petersburg, but was only tested on February 8. The Russians really wanted to know why the result took so long.
This result then prompted an automatic suspension by the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, which would have prevented Valieva from competing in the rest of the Olympics. But just a day later, RUSADA reversed this decision when Valieva filed an appeal.
The IOC then intervened and referred the case to the CAS, which decided today not to reinstate the suspension.
The world figure skating authorities will decide whether the team gold medal will remain in place, a process that could take months.
The team skating awards ceremony has yet to take place due to a positive test, and Tygart raised the possibility that Valieva’s coaches could be sued under US laws enacted in the wake of the 2016 doping scandal.
Under these laws, prosecutors can seek a fine of up to $1 million and a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who is believed to have affected a U.S. athlete’s performance through doping.
The rules could apply in Valieva’s case because she competed against the American team that took silver. Japan took bronze.
Despite the furor, the Kremlin supported Valieva, and President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov urged her to “go with pride, perform and win.”
Peskov said he was “convinced” the positive test was the result of a “misunderstanding,” urging everyone to wait for the outcome of the court case.
Olga Yermolina, a spokeswoman for the Russian Figure Skating Federation, suggested that anti-doping authorities may have been fouled by exposing a positive result in the heat of the competition.
Do you know when the test was taken? Why do you think this was published now, compare these dates and draw your own conclusions, ”she said.
Stanislav Pozdnyakov, President of the Russian Olympic Committee, added: “I have serious questions about the time that passed between December 25, when the sample was presented in St. Petersburg, and February 8, when it was made public.
“According to international standards for WADA laboratories, the deadline for loading an A sample is 20 days from the time the sample arrives at the laboratory.
“The fact that the road from St. Petersburg to Stockholm took almost a month looks very strange.
“This raises very serious questions for me, and it looks like someone held the specimen until the team figure skating competition was over.”
But both Russia and Olympic officials will watch with dismay as 15-year-old Will handles the scrutiny of international scrutiny after the controversy when she takes to the ice again tomorrow to compete for gold in singles.