Valieva cleared to skate on at Beijing Olympics
Russian teenage figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva was on Monday cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to continue competing in the Beijing Olympics despite failing a doping test.
CAS said it had rejected appeals by the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union to have the suspension of the 15-year-old reinstated.
The prodigious Valieva, who has not been cleared of doping, is now able to take part in the singles event that begins on Tuesday and will be favourite to win.
CAS cited “exceptional circumstances” for its decision, including her status as a “protected person” — in other words, a minor.
Matthieu Reeb, CAS director general, said: “The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete in the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances.”
CAS also emphasised that “there were serious issues of untimely notification” of the test result.
The Russian Olympic Committee hailed the decision but its US counterpart said it was “disappointed by the message this decision sends”.
“This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” the US Olympic committee said.
– Six-week delay –
Valieva tested positive during the Russian championships on December 25 for the banned substance trimetazidine.
It is used to treat angina and vertigo but is on WADA’s prohibited list because it can increase blood flow efficiency and help endurance.
But it took six weeks for the result of the test to be processed by a WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm.
The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was notified of the positive test result on February 8 and suspended Valieva, but she successfully appealed and the ban was lifted.
The day before, she had helped Russia win team gold in Beijing, producing a dazzling performance as she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.
The medals ceremony for the team event was cancelled while the Valieva case raged in the background.
Speaking before CAS released its decision, the IOC said Monday the medals for the team competition would “probably not” be awarded during the Games — and that the court’s decision would only mean Valieva had the green light to continue competing, it did not mean she was cleared of doping.
The issue of the team competition “will not be probably sorted out during these Games and it’s something that’s regrettable but we have to follow the process of CAS and the legal process”, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
“It’s a dilemma we are all in and it’s something we’re not happy with.
“All the other issues will have to be discussed further into the Games and that will include the presentation of the medals to the teams.”
The United States won the silver medal and Japan took the bronze, with Canada fourth.
– Latest Russian doping case –
The Valieva case has raised a string of questions, not least why it took six weeks for the test to be processed.
RUSADA has said it was informed that the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases at the start of the year was the reason for the delay.
“The CAS panel also emphasised that there were serious issues of untimely notification of the results,” said Reeb.
“We would not have this case and I would not be here if these anti-doping test procedures would have been completed in one week or 10 days.”
The other burning question in the case is the welfare of the girl at the midst of the latest Russian doping scandal to rock recent Olympics.
The IOC has urged WADA to investigate Valieva’s entourage, which includes highly successful coach Eteri Tutberidze.
CAS’s decision will be intensely scrutinised as Russia is already under sanctions for a massive state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
As a result, Russians are competing in Beijing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
The Russian flag cannot be displayed at the Games or on the team’s clothing and the national anthem cannot be played.