Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva admitted to the Olympics

BEIJING — Russian teenager Kamila Valieva has been cleared to compete in the women’s figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics despite failing a drug test ahead of the Games, setting her up for her second gold medal bid in Beijing.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport released its decision less than 12 hours after a hastily orchestrated hearing that lasted until early Monday morning that 15-year-old Valieva, a favorite of women’s personal gold, did not need a preliminary suspension from competition. full investigation.

The court gave her a favorable ruling 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 Commission considered that the exclusion of an athlete from participation in the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” said CAS CEO Mathieu Reeb.

Now Valieva and her Russian colleagues can aim for the first women’s figure skating podium in Olympic history. The event will begin with a short program on Tuesday and end on Thursday with a free skate.

Shortly after the decision, Valieva skated at her allotted training time under the supervision of her coach, Eteri Tutberidze. She completed her program without falling, and her skating drew applause from the Russian media.

The reaction in the world ranged from support for the young figure skater to complaints that Russian doping has once again damaged the sporting event.

The CAS panel also mentioned fundamental issues of fairness in its decision, the fact that she had taken a clean test in Beijing and that there were “serious problems with the late notification” of her positive test.

Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on December 25 at the Russian Championships, but the Swedish lab’s results were only revealed a week ago after she helped the Russian Olympic Committee win team gold.

The reasons for the six-week wait for results from Sweden are unclear, although Russian officials have speculated that this was partly due to the January spike in cases of the micron variant of COVID-19, which affected the workforce.

In a statement on the decision, WADA suggested that RUSADA made a mistake by not informing the Stockholm laboratory that Valieva’s sample was a priority for analysis so close to the Olympics.

Her case has caused havoc at the Olympics since last Tuesday, when the team event awards ceremony was dropped from the schedule.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) immediately suspended her, and a day later lifted the ban, putting the medals in limbo. The IOC and other organizations filed an appeal, and an expedited hearing was held on Sunday evening. Valieva testified via videoconference.

Athletes under the age of 16, such as Valieva, have more rights under the anti-doping rules and are generally not liable for the use of prohibited substances. The focus of any future investigation will be on her personal team – trainers, doctors, nutritionists, etc.

This decision only concerns whether Valieva will be able to continue skating until her case is decided. This does not decide the fate of one gold medal, which she has already won.

Valieva landed the first women’s quadruple jump at the Olympics when she won gold in the team competition with the Russian Olympic Committee last Monday. The US took silver and Japan took bronze. Canada came in fourth.

This medal and any medal she wins in the individual competition can still be taken from her.

These issues will be addressed as part of a separate long-term investigation of a positive doping test, which will be led 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 wants to conduct an independent investigation into Valieva’s entourage.

In the case of Valieva, the issues raised by the often proven culture of doping in Russian sport have been the focus of six consecutive Olympic Games, including the last three Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; Pyeongchang, South Korea; and now Beijing.

“This appears to be yet another chapter in Russia’s systematic and widespread disregard for the cleanliness of sport,” US Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirschland said in a statement.

Hirschland said the USOPC was “disappointed with the message this decision sends” and suggested that the athletes were denied the reassurance that they were competing on equal terms.

On Tuesday, the ice dance competition was decided at the rink as CAS prepared its verdict.

Gold medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Sizeron of France and US bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donoghue responded, “No comment.”

Nikita Katsalapov, who, together with Victoria Sinitsina, won the silver medal from the Russians, simply said: “Kamila, go ahead!”

Hubbell and Donoghue could upgrade their silver medals to gold in the team event if the Russians are stripped of their title at a later date.

“The deal is not yet complete, but I know that all the people on the team want medals here as a team,” Hubbell said. “If we miss this opportunity, it will be a huge disappointment.”

The IOC demanded that the entire Valieva doping case be resolved in Beijing, which was unrealistic. However, the IOC may now reschedule the team skating awards ceremony.

___ AP Sports columnist Dave Skretta from Beijing contributed to this report.

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