Kamila Valieva Cleared To Compete After Failed Drug Test
The IOC has said that “in the interest of fairness to all athletes” there will be no medal ceremony if Russian teenager Kamila Valieva places in the top three in the women’s individual figure skating competition.
The organization added that it will “organize dignified medal ceremonies once the case of Ms. Valieva has been concluded.” She was cleared to compete in the event despite failing a pre-games drug test, and now she’s in line to attempt a second gold medal in Beijing.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) issued the ruling less than 12 hours after a meeting ended early Monday morning. It decided that the 15-year-old Valieva, the women’s individual gold favorite, does not need to be suspended ahead of a full investigation.
CAS ruled that way partly because she’s a minor or “protected person” and was subject to different rules than adults.
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The panel also cited fundamental issues of fairness in its ruling: she tested clean in Beijing and that there were “serious issues of untimely notification” of her positive test.
“The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympics would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS director general Matthieu Reeb said.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it was “disappointed by the message this decision sends.”
“It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sports and to hold our athletes, coaches, and all involved to the highest of standards,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sports by Russia.
“We know this case is not yet closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”
Valieva and her teammates now have their sights set on the first podium sweep of women’s figure skating in Olympic history. The event starts with the short program on Tuesday and concludes Thursday with the free skate.
After the decision, Valieva skated in her practice time slot.
Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on December 25 at the Russian nationals, but the result didn’t come to light until a week ago—after she helped the ROC win the team gold.
Reasons for the six-week wait for a result from Sweden, where the lab is located, are unclear, though Russian officials have theorized that it was partly because of a January surge in the omicron variant.
The Russian anti-doping agency immediately suspended her, then lifted the ban a day later which put the medal ceremony in limbo. An appeal led to the meeting and ultimately this decision.
The ruling only addresses whether she can keep skating before her case is resolved; it doesn’t decide the fate of the one gold medal she has already won. That medal, and any additional medal she wins, could still be taken from her.
The World Anti-Doping Agency will have the right to appeal any ruling by RUSADA.
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