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“Worst case”, “experiments”: Valiyeva’s doping case appalled experts

“Worst Case”, “Experiments”
Valiyeva’s doping case horrifies experts

Kamila Valiewa is at the center of an Olympic scandal: The 15-year-old figure skater had tested positive for a banned substance, then led the Russian team to team gold and now has to fear for her career. The complex shocked experts.

For expert Fritz Sörgel, the affair surrounding figure skating prodigy Kamila Valiyewa is “the most spectacular doping case in recent years”. The Nuremberg pharmacologist does not believe that the 15-year-old was given the heart drug trimetazidine for health reasons.

“Of course, it is an inhumane approach to give such a young person such a drug and experiment with it to see if it increases performance,” Sörgel told the Funke media group newspapers, adding: “The effectiveness of angina Pectoris isn’t well documented, however, and a 15-year-old girl can’t really have angina.”

Valiyeva apparently tested positive for the banned drug on December 25, 2021 at the national championships in St. Petersburg. The Russian anti-doping agency Rusada allegedly only received the finding on February 8th – i.e. after the team competition, which the Russian team won. Only then was she provisionally suspended. A day later, the Rusada Disciplinary Committee lifted the suspension again after Valiyewa objected and initially cleared the way for another Olympic start. The International Olympic Committee does not want to accept this and appealed to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport Cas through the International Testing Agency (Ita).

Trimetazidine has been on the doping list for many years. Athletes were banned from taking it during competitions until 2016, and since then it has also been banned from use during training cycles. Russia is also not allowed to send its own team flying the Russian flag to the Winter Olympics. The country’s Olympic team competes under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). The punishment also applied to the summer games in Tokyo – a reaction to numerous Russian doping scandals in recent years.

“It can hardly be worse for Russia”

“The doping control of an athlete who tests positive does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games,” ROC said in a statement. In addition, after the positive test on December 25, 2021, Valiyeva repeatedly passed doping controls – including in Beijing during the team competition. “All the results have been negative,” affirmed the ROC. The Russians had won Olympic gold ahead of the USA and Japan. The ROC also pointed out that a doping test by the European champion at the European Championships in January was just as negative as one of hers during the Olympic Games.

Two-time Olympic champion Katarina Witt is convinced of the innocence of the Russian. “This young girl, who enchants with athleticism and grace, is 15 years old and underage. And I am convinced that she is not to blame here,” said the former world-class figure skater in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. As an athlete, “you follow the advice of those you trust, in this case the coaching and medical teams. You just trust that they know what’s right and what’s wrong.”

In that case, “a lot is still in the dark,” said Witt. “But if so, then the adults responsible would have to be banned from the sport forever. Knowingly asking a young athlete to do something like that cannot be surpassed in terms of inhumanity.” However, under sports law, Valiyeva is responsible for the substance in her blood.

According to doping expert Sörgel, there is no longer any need to comment on Russia, and the case is not surprising. The expert considers it unlikely that the drug will cause a direct increase in performance. “Nevertheless, it is on the doping list because it is supposed to promote blood circulation in the heart and is therefore a temptation for the dopers and their doping doctors.” ARD doping expert Hajo Seppelt wrote under the heading “Worst case for Russian sport“: “If the case is finally confirmed, it would be child doping. It can’t get any worse for Russia.”

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