BEIJING (AP) — Russian teenager Kamila Valieva has been cleared to compete in women’s figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics despite failing a drug test ahead of the Games, setting her up for a second gold medal.
No matter what happens on the ice, Valieva won’t get a medal ceremony moment in Beijing. No more than any skater who finishes in the top three with her.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Valieva to skate less than 12 hours after a hastily arranged hearing that lasted until Monday morning. A panel of judges ruled that 15-year-old Valieva, favorite for women’s individual gold, did not need to be provisionally suspended before a full investigation.
The court ruled in her favor in part because she is a minor, known in Olympic jargon as a “protected person”, and is subject to different rules than an adult athlete.
“The panel found that preventing the Athlete from competing at the Olympics would cause him irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said.
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Now Valieva and her fellow Russian skaters can aim for the first women’s figure skating podium sweep in Olympic history. The event begins with the short program on Tuesday and ends Thursday with the free skate.
The International Olympic Committee said Monday afternoon that if Valieva finishes in the top three, there will be no medal ceremony during the Games. There will also be no ceremony for the team event won by Valieva and the Russian team a week ago.
“It would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony,” the IOC said.
Valieva landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman at the Olympics as the Russian team won gold in a dominating performance.
The decision not to award medals also affects Nathan Chen and the rest of the second-placed US team, who will leave Beijing unsure if they won silver or gold. It would be Chen’s second gold medal at the Games. If Valieva and Russia are disqualified, Japan moves to silver and Canada wins bronze.
“We are devastated that they are leaving Beijing without their medals in hand, but we appreciate the IOC’s intention to ensure that the right medals go to the right people,” the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
The IOC’s decision also means that fourth place in the women’s event will have a good chance of advancing to the bronze position.
Shortly after the CAS ruling, Valieva skated in training, watched by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze. She finished her program without a fall, drawing some applause from the Russian media.
Reactions across the world ranged from support for the young skater to complaints that Russian doping had once again harmed a sporting event.
In addition to her status as a minor, the CAS decision cited fundamental issues of fairness, the fact that she was tested clean in Beijing and that there were “serious issues of untimely notification” of her positive test. .
Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on December 25 during the Russian national championships, but the result from a Swedish lab was only revealed a week ago, after helping the Russian Olympic Committee to win team gold.
The reasons for the six-week wait for a result from Sweden are unclear. In a statement, the WADA suggested that RUSADA went off the rails by not reporting to the Stockholm lab that Valieva’s sample was a priority for testing so close to the Olympics.
His case has taken its toll at the Olympics since last Tuesday, when the team medal ceremony was pulled from the schedule due to the positive test.
The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) immediately suspended her, then lifted the ban the following day. The IOC and others appealed and an expedited hearing was held on Sunday evening. Valieva testified by video.
Athletes under 16 like Valieva have more rights under anti-doping rules and are generally not held liable for taking banned substances. Any future investigation will focus on his trainers, doctors, nutritionists, etc.
This decision only concerns the question of whether Valieva can continue skating before her case is resolved. This does not decide the fate of the only gold medal she has already won.
These questions will be addressed in a separate, longer-term survey by RUSADA, which took the sample in St. Petersburg.
The World Anti-Doping Agency will have the right to appeal any decision by RUSADA and has also said it wishes to independently investigate Valieva’s entourage.
The Valieva case means Russian doping has been a major theme for six consecutive Olympics.
“This appears to be another chapter in Russia’s systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport,” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.
Hirshland said the USOPC was “disappointed with the message sent by this decision” and suggested athletes were being denied the confidence of knowing they would be competing on equal footing.
At the rink on Tuesday, the ice dance competition was decided as CAS prepared its verdict.
Gold medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and US bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue offered “No comment.”
Nikita Katsalapov, who with Victoria Sinitsina won the silver medal for the Russians, simply said: “Come on Kamila!”
Hubbell and Donohue could see their silver medals go to gold in the team competition.
“There’s no deal done yet, but I know everyone on the team wants to get the medals here as a team,” Hubbell said. “If we miss this opportunity, it’s a huge disappointment.”
The IOC now says it will ‘hold dignified medal ceremonies once Ms Valieva’s case has been concluded’, whenever possible.