BEIJING — Kamila Valieva has been cleared to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
In a landmark decision, the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday ruled in favor of the Russian figure skating superstar and the country’s anti-doping agency, rejecting the provisional suspension Valieva would otherwise have faced after testing positive for a drug. forbidden heart called trimetazidine. .
The CAS panel found, among other things, that the six-week delay between when Valieva’s sample was connected and when she was informed of the positive result was
in particular, the Panel considered that preventing the Athlete from competing in the Olympic Games would cause him irreparable harm in these circumstances;
The decision means the 15-year-old will be able to take part in the women’s individual competition, which begins on Tuesday. She is favorite to win gold in the event.
Valieva’s case has been in the headlines at the Beijing Winter Olympics for several days now and has embroiled some of the world’s biggest sports watchdogs – including the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency – in a battle. complex and high-stakes legal situation.
The CAS decision is a defeat for the IOC and WADA at the hands of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, whose disciplinary panel lifted Valieva’s suspension earlier this week.
The rebuke of the CAS decision by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee was swift. “We are disappointed with the message sent by this decision. It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches and everyone involved to the highest standards,” said said Sarah Hirshland, CEO of USOPC. A declaration. “Athletes have a right to know that they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This seems to be another chapter in Russia’s systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport.
“We know this case is not yet closed and we call on all members of the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”
Reigning Russian and European champion Valieva helped Russia win gold in the team figure skating event at the Games late last week with a pair of dazzling performances. But early Tuesday in Beijing, before the event medals were awarded, Russian officials learned that a lab in Sweden had detected trimetazidine, which has been banned since 2014, in one of its samples. a previous event.
According to the International Testing Agency, the sample was obtained on December 25 during the Russian national championships in St. Petersburg, more than six weeks before the Swedish lab reported the results. RUSADA attributed the delay to COVID-19 issues at the lab. WADA had no comment.
Upon learning of the positive test, RUSADA immediately suspended Valieva, as required by WADA rules. But when Valieva appealed, the suspension was quickly lifted, paving the way for the IOC’s appeal and CAS decision.
The IOC and WADA could apparently seek an expedited appeal on the merits of Valieva’s case, though such appeals can typically take weeks or months.
Once a final decision has been made on Valieva’s case, at whatever point in time, the International Skating Union will then determine what this means for the seeding of the team event. A Russian disqualification would give Team USA the gold medal, with Japan being elevated to silver and Canada receiving bronze.
Widely considered one of the most gifted figure skaters in the world, Valieva has not publicly commented on her case. But her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, defended the 15-year-old to a Russian TV channel on Saturday.
“I mean we are absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and pure,” Tutberidze told Channel One Russia, according to TASS, a Russian news agency. “And for us, it’s not a theorem, but an axiom. It doesn’t need to be proven.”
Valieva also received support from the Russian Olympic Committee all the way to the Kremlin.
Contact Tom Schad at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.