Russia is once again at the centre of an alleged Olympic doping scandal. This time involving a teenage ice skater. The Russian newspaper RBC claims 15-year-old skating sensation Kamila Valieva is being investigated for taking a banned substance.
The teenager led her country to victory in the figure skating team event on Monday, pulling off not one, but two quadruple jumps. The first woman in history to pull off such a move at the Olympics.
It’s now reported that Valieva had tested positive for a banned drug, Trimetazidine. It’s a drug used to treat angina and is on the list of banned medicines as it is considered a stimulant.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has so far refused to comment on the matter saying that it is a ‘’legal issue.”
At today's press conference in the Chinese capital, spokesman Mark Adams said: “I’m not going to comment on all sorts of speculation, I’m not from the podium of a press conference going to comment on a legal case, because it wouldn’t be appropriate.”
The Russian Sports Ministry has issued a statement saying: “It is too early to comment on media speculations about the delay of the team figure skating medal ceremony in Beijing before there is the official information on this score."
The statement continued: "Russia is committed to firm and systematic resistance to all violations of sports rules and Olympic ethics."
The controversy started when the medal ceremony for the Team Figure Skating event on Monday was suddenly postponed. The reason given was a "legal issue."
The teams - Russia claiming Gold, the US silver, and Japan Bronze - had already had an informal ceremony being gifted their golden Dwen Dwen Pandas, the mascot of the Beijing Games.
Valieva has the nickname "Miss Perfect" and was a gold medal favourite going into these Games. At last year's European Championships she set a world record score on her way to the title.
She has amassed a huge following on social media and has appeared in Russian Vogue. Her performance on Monday has already won her millions of extra fans around the world. To take the top spot in Beijing, her performance was 30 points clear of second place Japan.
The legal issue to which the IOC keeps referring could be regarding her age, under Olympic doping rules she is regarded a Protected Person, which refers to a person under the age of 16 at the time of a doping offence.
This could add to the complexity of the case and be why it has taken days for the IOC to announce further details. It also means if she is indeed found guilty her punishment could be less severe than if she were an adult.
The 15-year-old was seen out on the training rink today as the legal discussions continue. She is due to take to the ice again next Tuesday for the women’s short programme event.
Russian athletes are competing in Beijing without their national anthem due to previous sanctions against the country for doping violations.