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Winter Olympics 2022: Teenage ROC skater Kamila Valieva can compete after drug drama, Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling

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Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva has learned her fate after being drawn into an ugly doping drama at the Olympics.

Russian figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva will be able to compete for a second gold medal after the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared her to continue to compete in the Olympics.

The 15-year-old’s could have been barred from competing in the women’s individual competition starts on Tuesday but after a hastily convened session on Sunday, the superstar was granted a reprieve.

The CAS said it had rejected appeals by the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union to have her suspension reinstated.

The ruling stated that “on the basis of the very limited facts of this case, and after consideration of the relevant legal issues, it has been determined that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the Athlete,” the ruling read.

The reasons given were that Valieva is a “protected person” under the World Anti-Doping Code, RUSADA and WADC “are silent” on suspensions for protected persons and that the test was performed in December but the “untimely notification” meant it “impinged upon the Athlete’s ability to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit, while such late notification was not her fault, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.”

The panel also said it considered the “ fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm, and the relative balance of interests as between the Applicants and the Athlete, who did not test positive during the Olympic Games in Beijing and is still subject to a disciplinary procedure on the merits following the positive anti-doping test undertaken in December 2021; in particular, the Panel considered that preventing the Athlete from competing at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances.”

The prodigious Valieva is the favourite to win the individual event.

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 medals ceremony for that competition was cancelled while the Valieva case raged in the background.

The International Olympic Committee said Monday the medals for the team competition would “probably not” be awarded during the Games, regardless of the decision about Valieva.

“That will not be probably sorted out during these Games and it’s something that’s regrettable but we have to follow the process of CAS and the legal process,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a media briefing in Beijing.

“It’s a dilemma we are all in and it’s something we’re not happy with. “This specific decision is about whether she can compete or not. “All the other issues will have to be discussed further into the Games and that will include the presentation of the medals to the teams.” 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, says that 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 — the day after the team competition — 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 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.

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, which includes coach Eteri Tutberidze.

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, said Sunday 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. CAS’s decision will be intensely scrutinised because Russia is already under sanctions for a massive state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

As a result, 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.

French figure skaters Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won their first Olympic gold in ice dancing on Monday, breaking their own world record again in the process.

The five-time European and four-time world champions scored 226.98 in total, beating their previous high score of 226.61.

— with AFP



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