NewsWorldValieva cleared to compete, but unresolved doping case hangs over Games

Valieva cleared to compete, but unresolved doping case hangs over Games

Sport’s highest court on Monday cleared 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to compete in her next Olympic event, but the teenager’s doping charge that has rocked the Beijing Games remained unresolved.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in a statement that it had upheld an earlier decision by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to lift a ban on Valieva.

The skating prodigy took to the Beijing ice half an hour after the CAS ruling, executing a flawless practice run of the short programme she will skate in Tuesday’s women’s singles.

CAS cited the fact that Valieva was a “protected person” under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules as one of the “exceptional circumstances” underpinning its decision.

Preventing Valieva from competing at the Olympics would have caused the teenager irreparable harm, CAS said in its ruling.

The figure skater is one of the youngest athletes to face a doping charge during an Olympics, prompting global outrage at the role of the adults around her, and the continuing scourge of Russian doping in international sports.

CAS’ ruling drew immediate but mixed reactions.

“Let’s go Kamila!” Russian ice dancer Nikita Katsalapov said at the adjacent Capital Indoor Stadium after winning a silver medal and learning about the decision.

In contrast, Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, said in a statement after the ruling: “This appears to be another chapter in the systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia.”

DOPING NOT ADDRESSED

The CAS ruling did not address the merits of Valieva’s drug case. That now sits in the hands of WADA, which has not given a timeline for adjudicating her case. Many fear it will not be resolved by the end of the Games.

WADA said it was disappointed with the ruling, which it said was not in accordance with its own code.

“It appears the CAS panel decided not to apply the terms of the code, which does not allow for specific exceptions to be made in relation to mandatory provisional suspensions for ‘protected persons’, including minors,” WADA said in a statement.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said: “Only time will tell if she (Valieva) should be competing in these Games and whether or not all of her results will be disqualified”.

Earlier, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the awarding of medals for the team event cannot go ahead until the doping case is addressed.

It is not clear whether other members of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team can receive gold medals. The second-placed U.S. and Japan in third are also waiting in the wings. Canada finished fourth.

“That will probably not be sorted out during this Games and that is something regrettable, but we have to follow the process,” Adams said.

The women’s singles start with the short programme on Tuesday and conclude on Thursday with the free skating.

It was also not clear whether, if Valieva finishes in the top three, that medal ceremony would be held by the end of the Games.

LATE NOTIFICATION

Valieva tested positive for the banned heart medication Trimetazidine on Dec. 25 at the Russian National Championships, but the result was not revealed until Feb. 8 after she had competed in the team event at the Winter Games.

The Russian dazzled the skating world by becoming the first person to successfully land quad jumps in the women’s Olympic competition.

CAS emphasised the “serious issues of untimely notification of the results” in its decision.

“Such late notification was not her fault, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games,” the ruling said.

WADA blamed RUSADA for not asking the laboratory to fast-track Valieva’s sample in order for it to be analysed before the Olympics.

“According to information received by WADA, the sample in this case was not flagged by RUSADA as being a priority sample when it was received by the anti-doping laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden,” it said.

“This meant the laboratory did not know to fast-track the analysis of this sample.”

Tygart said it was another case of Russia not following the rules.

“In addition to athletes and the public, this young athlete has been terribly let down by the Russians and the global anti-doping system that unfairly cast her into this chaos,” he said.

American former Olympic champion Tara Lipinski posted on Twitter: “At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete.

“Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.”

(Reuters)

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