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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
PA Kamila Valieva during a training session in Beijing.
# Decision time
Russian skater Valieva to learn Beijing Olympics fate on Monday
Valieva tested positive for A banned substance in a test taken last December.

RUSSIAN FIGURE SKATING Sensation Kamila Valieva will learn on Monday if she can compete again at the Beijing Winter Olympics when sport’s top court gives its decision on a doping test she failed in December.

Valieva, who is 15, could be barred from competing in the women’s individual competition if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rules against her.

CAS convened in the Chinese capital on Sunday to hear evidence, with Valieva taking part in the hearing, and says it will deliver its decision around 2 p.m. on Monday (0600 Irish time) Beijing time.

“The hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the arbitration procedures relating to figure skater Kamila Valieva came to an end at 02:10am (local time) on 14 February,” said a CAS statement.

The prodigious Valieva would be favourite to win the individual event that begins on Tuesday, just 24 hours after CAS issues its decision.

She helped Russia win team gold earlier in the Games, producing a dazzling performance as she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.

The case has raised a string of questions, not least why it took six weeks for the test to be processed by a laboratory in Stockholm, which is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). 

The International Testing Agency, which carries out doping control during the Olympics, said on Friday a sample taken from Valieva during the Russian championships on December 25 showed the presence of trimetazidine.

Trimetazidine is used to treat angina and vertigo but it is banned by WADA because it can increase blood flow efficiency and help endurance.

The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was notified of the positive test result on Tuesday and suspended Valieva, but she successfully appealed and the ban was lifted.

The first signs that the Beijing Games were about to be rocked by a doping scandal came when the medal ceremony for the team event was cancelled, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) blaming a “legal” issue.

Once the positive result was made public, the IOC, WADA and the International Skating Union said they would appeal against RUSADA’s decision to clear their athlete.

Amid the havoc caused to one of the Winter Games’ most popular sports, the Russian team has questioned why Valieva’s result was produced in the middle of the Olympics, six weeks after it was taken.

The president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Alexander Gorchkov, said: “We have no doubts about the honesty of our athlete.

“We have to find out… what happened to the December 25 doping sample almost a month and a half after it was sent to a foreign laboratory.”

RUSADA has suggested it was informed that the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases at the start of the year was the reason for the delay.

The other burning question in the case is the welfare of the girl at the midst of the latest doping scandal to rock recent Olympics.

The IOC has urged WADA to investigate Valieva’s entourage.

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Her coach Eteri Tutberidze has achieved enormous success by employing uncompromising methods that helped Alina Zagitova take Olympic gold for Russia in the individual event four years ago.

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, said it was important to remember the “human side of this story… to think about a person of 15 in this situation”.

“We need to treat this situation extremely carefully,” Dubi said.

For now, Valieva seems outwardly unaffected, practising as normal and laughing and joking with her coaching team at the rink on Sunday.

CAS’s decision will be intensely scrutinised, not least by the IOC, which placed sanctions on Russia for a massive state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

As a result of the sanctions, 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.

– © AFP 2022

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