Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva was cleared to continue competing at the 2022 Olympics on Monday after testing positive for a banned substance ahead of the start of the Beijing Games.
The conclusion of the scandal provoked strong reactions from all over the sporting world. Russians have been praising the young skater, who will be in action throughout the week as the Olympics continue.
“We don’t know how many tears and moral strength this whole crazy situation cost Kamila,” the Russian Olympic Committee said, according to Reuters. “Going out and training every day with a decision hanging over you, not knowing what will happen tomorrow…
“To force you to appear calm in public, only letting your feelings show when no one is watching… We don’t know. It’s very personal. But what we know for sure and what we can certainly do is cheer him on tomorrow and then Thursday with all the might of our energy.
Oleg Matytsin, Russia’s sports minister, added that the CAS arbitrators involved in the appeal “showed integrity, professionalism and carefully considered all the circumstances of the case”.
However, the reaction from other nations and athletes was far more polarizing. U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Games CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement that the committee was “disappointed” with the decision and called out the Russians for what appears to be a repeat offense.
“Athletes have the right to know that they are competing on an equal footing. Unfortunately, today this is denied. This appears to be another chapter in Russia’s systematic and widespread disregard for clean sport,” Hirshland said.
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart echoed that sentiment, saying, “Russia hijacked the competition and stole the moment from clean athletes and the public.
“In addition to the athletes and the public, this young athlete was terribly disappointed by the Russians and the global anti-doping system who unfairly threw her into this chaos.”
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Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart drug listed as a banned substance, in December – the result not being reported until six weeks after the test in Russia. The ROC had already won gold in the team skating event, a result to which Valieva contributed strongly.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency issued a temporary competition ban for Valieva and delayed the medal ceremony for the team event. A separate investigation will determine whether the Russians can keep the medals, according to Sky News.
Valieva is now cleared to continue competing in this week’s events, including the women’s individual competition, in which she is a heavy favourite. However, there will be no medal ceremony if she finishes in the top three.
“I strongly disagree with this decision,” former Olympic skater and current host Tara Lipinski said on Twitter. “At the end of the day there was a positive test and there is no doubt in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete. Regardless of age or time of test/results. I believe that it will leave a permanent scar on our sport.
New York Post