Doping Trial Begins for Russian Ice Skater

The right of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to compete in the next Beijing Olympics women’s event will be considered during an urgent hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On behalf of the IOC, the International Testing Agency announced on Friday that it will challenge Russia’s anti-doping agency’s decision to allow 15-year-old Valieva to skate. Valieva was provisionally banned by the Russian authorities last week after failing a drug test in December.

Valieva is the overwhelming favorite in her event, which starts on Tuesday, after shattering world records this season and completing the first quad leap by a woman at an Olympic Games when the Russian Olympic Committee won the team event on Monday. The ROC has stated that it would try to retain its gold medal.

Valieva tested positive for the prohibited chemical trimetazidine at the Russian national championships in St. Petersburg six weeks ago, according to the ITA.

A Swedish laboratory finally discovered the positive test on Tuesday, the day after Valieva assisted the Russians in winning the team event and only hours before the medal presentation, which was subsequently postponed. It will be decided later if the Russians will lose their gold medal.

The Swedish lab has yet to respond to an AP request for an interview.

The Russian anti-doping organization RUSADA, which conducted testing at national championships, issued Valieva an immediate temporary suspension from the Beijing Olympics.

A RUSADA disciplinary panel approved her appeal on Wednesday, overturning the skater’s temporary suspension.

According to the ITA, which is prosecuting on behalf of the IOC, the expedited hearing before CAS will only evaluate the issue of the interim suspension at these Games. The IOC established the ITA in 2018 in the aftermath of the Russian doping crisis to supervise international testing and create the Olympic anti-doping policy.

“The IOC will utilize its right to appeal and will not wait for RUSADA’s reasoned conclusion because a decision is required before the athlete’s next competition,” the testing agency stated.

Valieva, as a 15-year-old, is protected by the World Anti-Doping Code, the sports’ regulation book. She could just get a mild reprimand if she follows these rules.

When a youngster is accused of breaking doping laws, the rules say that her entourage, including coaches and team medics, must be scrutinized as well. For athletes above the age of 18, this isn’t usually the case.

“Such incidents are not beneficial to the Games,” said Mark Adams, a spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee. “These cases must be prosecuted correctly, handled appropriately, and due process must be followed.” People’s confidence would be significantly lower if this were not the case. So I believe it is critical for everyone involved, not least the 15-year-old athlete, that we follow due process, that it is seen to be done properly, and that people can have faith in the judgments made.”

Valieva’s Russian national championship will most certainly be taken away from her in December.

In a statement, the Russian Olympic Committee stated, “The Russian Olympic Committee will take thorough steps to safeguard the rights and interests of the ROC team and to maintain the honestly-won Olympic gold medal (in the team event).” It went on to say that a drug test Valieva did at the Olympics came back negative – all medalists are tested during the Olympics.

“The ROC also expects a thorough inquiry, as a consequence of which all key legal and factual factors surrounding what occurred will be determined.”

Valieva landed four quad leaps in the 45-minute workout, including one in a potentially high-scoring combination with a triple salchow.

Valieva achieved a world record for her free skate at the Rostelecom Cup in November, despite missing out on that combo when she executed a quad-double. At the same Grand Prix event in Russia, she also achieved world records for the short program and overall score.

A decision on the Olympic team event is expected to take considerably longer, preventing any medals from being presented in Beijing before the Feb. 20 closing ceremony. RUSADA will first conduct a thorough investigation into the doping case before making a decision. This decision would trigger an appeal, which might result in a trip to the CAS.

“The ISU may only make a judgment on the ROC team’s results in the Team Figure Skating event following a definitive determination on the entire merits of the matter,” the ITA stated.

The most recent doping scandal involving a Russian athlete might have far-reaching consequences for the country’s sports program.

Russia is competing in the Beijing Olympics under the name ROC, which stands for Russian Olympic Committee, and does not have national anthem or flag. This is due to the impact from years of doping scandals, including steroid usage and cover-ups during Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics.

Another controversy might cause the two-year ban to be extended beyond the December deadline.

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