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May 22, 2022
Russian Figure Skater Failed Drug Test Before Winter Games Debut, Urgent Court Hearing Set To Decide Her Olympics Fate

Russian Figure Skater Failed Drug Test Before Winter Games Debut, Urgent Court Hearing Set To Decide Her Olympics Fate

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva—who won gold in the team figure skating competition— was allowed by her country’s officials to participate in the Beijing Winter Games despite recently testing positive for a banned substance at a national competition, a decision that is now being challenged by Olympics officials in court.

Figure skater Kamila Valieva of Team ROC is seen during a training session at Capital Indoor Stadium … [+] at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Key Facts

In a statement issued on Friday, the International Testing Agency (ITA) stated that a sample collected  from the 15-year-old skater on December 25, 2021, during the 2022 Russian Figure Skating Championships, tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine on February 8 in a lab test carried out in Sweden.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which oversaw the national competition, then immediately handed Valieva an interim ban from the Beijing Olympics.

Following an appeal, this ban was lifted by a RUSADA disciplinary panel on Wednesday, when Valieva joined her Russian teammate on the top step of the podium and received a gold medal for the figure skating team event.

The ITA, on behalf of the International Olympic Committee, will now challenge Russia’s decision—to lift the ban on Valieva and allow her to compete in the women’s singles event—in an urgent hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The CAS hearing will only consider whether the provisional ban on Valieva should remain in place for the duration of the Winter Games, the ITA added.

What To Watch For
The CAS hearing will determine if Valieva is allowed to compete in the women’s singles event which is set to begin on Tuesday. The Russian teenager is widely considered the favorite to win gold in the event after setting world record scores in the lead up to the Beijing Winter Games. During the team event earlier this week, Valieva became the first woman to land a quad jump at the Olympics.

Key Background
Earlier this week, the Russian figure skating team won gold— in part from Valieva’s record-setting performance—but their medal ceremony was delayed as the IOC said it needed time for  a “legal consultation.” On Wednesday, Russian newspapers reported that Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart medication that is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list. WADA has banned Russia from competing international sporting events for multiple years, including the 2022 Olympics, due to its state-backed doping program dating back to at least 2012. All Russian athletes at the Winter Games have to compete as a neutral party and under the Russian Olympic Committee flag.

Further Reading
Kamila Valieva: What We Know About Russian Olympic Skater’s Reported Positive Drug Test (Forbes)

Doping hearing to decide Russian skater’s Olympic fate (Associated Press)

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