Russian ice skating prodigy Kamila Valiyeva banned for four years: scandal at the 2022 Olympics

Doping scandal at the 2022 Olympics

Russian ice skating prodigy banned for four years

Russian figure skating coach Tatyana Tarasova sees “hatred for our country”, and the World Anti-Doping Agency sees a fair verdict: figure skater Kamila Valiyeva has been banned for four years for doping. This should finally provide clarity about the team competition at the 2022 Olympics.

Russian figure skater Kamila Valiyeva has been banned for four years by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), almost two years after the doping scandal at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The start of the suspension was backdated to December 25, 2021, the day of the positive doping test at the Russian Championships, and all results achieved since then will be cancelled. This should also include the team gold from the 2022 Games. The US selection would then be declared Olympic champions.

As the CAS announced after the decision, Valiyeva, now 17 years old, will be stripped of all the “titles, awards, medals, prize and entry money” she has collected since then. At the 2022 Winter Games, she and the team prevailed against the USA and Japan. However, the positive test for the banned drug trimetazidine came to light while still in Beijing, and the medals from the team competition have not yet been awarded.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) waived a penalty for Valiyeva in January 2023, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the World Figure Skating Federation ISU went to CAS. The hearing was postponed for several weeks at the end of September after three days in court; the CAS had requested “further documents” after the various parties had submitted evidence.

WADA welcomes verdict, trainer speaks of “hatred”

WADA welcomed the verdict and said: “Child doping is unforgivable.” Valiyeva was 15 years old in Beijing and was considered a “protected person” under the World Anti-Doping Code, but her case became public. An ad hoc CAS commission allowed Waliyeva’s individual start in Beijing; under pressure from the public and in tears, she stumbled several times in the free skate and fell from first place to fourth after the short program.

Initial reactions in Russia showed complete incomprehension. The Russian Figure Skating Federation announced that it would closely examine the verdict. Since the Federation is not taking part in the proceedings, the verdict is only known from publicly available sources, said Secretary General Alexander Kogan. “We assume that our athletes will be Olympic champions in the team competition,” he said, according to the TASS agency. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said: “Of course we do not agree with this. In my view it is a political decision.” Successful Russian coach Tatjana Tarasova even said that “the hatred of our country had been transferred to her.”

After years of sports legal disputes, the CAS decision is binding – with the exception of the parties’ right to lodge an appeal with the Swiss Federal Court within 30 days for procedural reasons. According to Valiyeva’s defense attorneys, the young figure skater had drunk from a glass from which her heart-sick grandfather had allegedly taken his medication.

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