Teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva has emerged as one of the faces of Beijing 2022, but as the Winter Olympics near their conclusion, the spotlight will likely remain on the 15-year-old and her entourage for the foreseeable future. .
A blame game has already erupted between the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) over the doping control controversy surrounding Valieva, who finished competing at the Winter Olympics on Thursday.
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The 15-year-old skater finished fourth in the women’s individual figure skating event on Thursday, leaving the ice in tears after falling and hesitating during jumps in her routine, despite having already been the favorite to win gold.
Before being allowed to compete in the women’s individual figure skating competition, Valieva was suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on February 8, although the body lifted her suspension the following day after a hearing.
WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Skating Union (ISU) then filed an appeal against the lifting of the ban.
However, the CAS cleared Valieva to enter the competition, saying she would suffer “irreparable harm” if she was not allowed to compete, citing the “exceptional circumstances” of her being underage.
Given the pressures she faced, many commentators questioned why she was allowed to skate, with former US Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds saying it was “devastating that she was put in this situation”.
CAS released a 41-page document Thursday outlining its reasons for allowing Valieva to compete, including blaming WADA for how events unfolded in the teenager’s case.
“It is unfortunate that this episode happened to spoil the Winter Olympics experience for this athlete and other athletes,” CAS said.
“This was the result of relevant anti-doping bodies ensuring timely analysis of samples prior to the Games, and not ensuring outstanding cases are resolved prior to the start of the Olympic Winter Games.”
In a sample taken in December, ahead of the Olympics, Valieva tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine, a drug commonly used to treat angina and which experts say can improve heart disease. endurance by increasing blood flow to the heart.
However, the result was only analyzed and communicated to RUSADA in February. Valieva was then suspended the day after she led the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to gold in the figure skating team event on February 7, when she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Winter Olympics.
RUSADA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“Had all of this been accomplished on time and in accordance with the timelines recommended by WADA in its international laboratory standards, a decision on the merits of Ms Valieva’s case and her status could have been made well before the start of the Games. , and before his competitive experience and that of other athletes was negatively affected,” CAS said.
IOC Disciplinary Committee Chairman Denis Oswald told reporters on Tuesday that Valieva blamed his positive drug test on a mix-up with his grandfather’s medication because he uses trimetazidine for his heart condition.
On Friday, WADA responded to the CAS report, saying the tribunal ignored “the clear and unambiguous wording of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code (Code) regarding the criteria for lifting a mandatory Provisional Suspension” in allowing Valieva to compete. .
WADA said “rewriting the Code” to make exceptions for protected persons, including minors, “risks undermining the integrity of sports competition and athletes’ confidence in the fact that they compete on an equal footing”.
The Anti-Doping Code went through three rounds of consultations with anti-doping stakeholders and athletes before being “unanimously adopted” in November 2019, according to WADA’s statement.
“It is surprising and of great concern to WADA that a CAS panel sees fit to deviate from the clear terms of the Code,” WADA said, adding that the decision in the Valieva case “sets a dangerous precedent “.
WADA also questioned why RUSADA had not “reported the high priority nature” of Valieva’s test to the lab involved, despite being told that an outbreak of Covid-19 among staff was causing delays in the tests. sample testing.
Global Athlete, an athlete-led group working for change in the world of sport, called Valieva’s positive drug test ‘evidence of abuse of a minor’, adding that it was ‘unacceptable’ that a 15-year-old is subject to “serious physical and psychological risks”.
The IOC announced after the initial scandal broke that there would be no medal ceremony for the team event until the anti-doping investigation was completed and it was decided whether the ROC would retain their gold medal.
The AMA said it would investigate those around the 15-year-old, the adults responsible for her skating and well-being.
CNN contacted the ROC for comment from Valieva coach Eteri Tutberidze and ROC team doctor Filipp Shvetsky, but did not receive a response.
“These (last) days have been very difficult for me,” Valieva told Russian Channel One earlier this week after training. “It’s like I have no more emotions. I’m happy, but at the same time I’m emotionally tired.”
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