More on Figure Skating's Medals Hold-Up Emerges

Doping hearing to decide fate of Kamila Valieva, who could nab another gold
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2022 6:31 AM CST
More on Figure Skating's Medals Hold-Up Emerges
Kamila Valieva, 15, of the Russian Olympic Committee, reacts after the women's team free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's right to compete as the heavy favorite in the women's event at the Beijing Olympics will be decided at an urgent hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport after a failed doping test, per the AP. The International Testing Agency (ITA) confirmed she was found to have trimetazidine in her system in a drug test taken in December. The positive test was flagged by a laboratory in Sweden only on Tuesday—the day after Valieva helped the Russians win the team event and just hours before the medal ceremony, which was then postponed. More:

  • The ITA—on behalf of the IOC—said Friday it would fight a decision by Russia's anti-doping agency to allow the 15-year-old Valieva to skate in her event beginning Tuesday. She is the heavy favorite in that event after setting world record scores this season and landing the first quad jump by a women at an Olympics.

  • Whether the Russians will lose their gold medal in the team event will be decided later, likely preventing any medals being awarded in Beijing before the closing ceremony on Feb. 20.
  • The legal handling of Valieva's case started with an immediate interim ban from the Beijing Olympics imposed by the Russian agency, known as RUSADA, which oversaw testing at the national championships. On Wednesday, a RUSADA disciplinary panel upheld her appeal to overturn the skater's interim ban.
  • The urgent hearing at CAS will only consider the question of the provisional ban at these games, said the ITA which is prosecuting on behalf of the IOC. "The IOC will exercise its right to appeal and not to wait for the reasoned decision by RUSADA, because a decision is needed before the next competition the athlete is due to take part in," the testing agency said.
  • CNN has this statement from the Russian Olympic Committee: "The doping test of an athlete who tested positive does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games. At the same time, the athlete repeatedly passed doping tests before and after December 25, 2021, including while already in Beijing during the figure skating tournament. All the results are negative."

  • The New York Times explains trimetazidine is a heart medication that is thought to boost endurance "by helping the heart work more efficiently." Endurance is a plus for figure skaters, who can get a scoring bonus tied to certain jumps completed in the second half of their routines. The Times notes that other high-profile athletes, among them the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, have previously tested positive for the drug and been subject to a doping ban.
  • Though Valieva is at the heart of the case, she could ultimately receive just a simple reprimand under the sports' rule book—the World Anti-Doping Code. When a minor is implicated in doping rules violations, the focus of the mandatory investigation turns to her entourage, such as coaches and team doctors.
(More 2022 Beijing Olympics stories.)

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