Winter Olympics: US team furious after Russian figure skater Valieva is reprieved for doping

Beijing, China - Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva can compete in the Olympic women's event on Tuesday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the lifting of a provisional suspension in connection with a positive doping test.

Russia's Kamila Valieva practicing during a training session at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Russia's Kamila Valieva practicing during a training session at the Beijing Winter Olympics.  © MAGO / SNA

The urgent CAS decision permits the 15-year-old to enter the singles event at the Beijing Games, which starts Tuesday, after appeals from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the governing skating body (ISU) were dismissed.

"The CAS panel in charge of this matter has decided to let Miss Valieva continue her participation in the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022," CAS's director general Matthieu Reeb said Monday.

"It means that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the skater."

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Valieva's "exceptional circumstances" were key to the decision, said the CAS three-man panel which heard what they acknowledged were the "very limited facts of this case."

Two of the four reasons given emphasized her "protected person" status as a minor under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) and the lack of clear rules for suspending a minor while there are specific provisions for different standards of evidence and for lower sanctions in the case of protected persons.

The panel also "considered fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm, and the relative balance of interests" between Valieva and the appealing parties, and the "serious issues of untimely notification of the results" which impeded Valieva's "ability to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit while such late notification was not her fault."

US Olympics blasts decision

CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb held a press conference to announce the Court's ruling on Valieva.
CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb held a press conference to announce the Court's ruling on Valieva.  © IMAGO / SNA

A Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee of the Russian anti-doping body RUSADA lifted a suspension imposed on Valieva last week after she tested positive for the prohibited heart medicine trimetazidine in a sample taken December 25.

The test result arrived after Valieva had led the Russian Olympic Committee to first place in last Monday's team event.

But the medal ceremony has been suspended and a final decision is only to come once the full case has been dealt with by the International Testing Agency, which could be after the Games close on February 20.

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The teenage prodigy became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics in leading Russia to team victory over the United States, Japan, and Canada in fourth. She is considered favorite for the individual event which has the short program on Tuesday and concludes with free skating Thursday.

The US Olympic Committee reacted furiously to the CAS decision, claiming Valieva's case "appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia."

"It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches and all involved, to the highest of standards," a spokesperson for the US team added.

"Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied."

Russia is currently banned from competing at the Olympics as a nation and appears at the Games without its anthem or flag due to previous doping sanctions.

Cover photo: MAGO / SNA

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