Kamila Valieva: Russian figure skater handed four-year ban for doping

Kamila Valieva competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Kamila Valieva competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Credit: AP

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been given a four-year doping ban and her results at the 2022 Winter Olympics have been disqualified.

Valieva was initially cleared of bearing "no fault or negligence" for testing positive for a banned substance (trimetazidine), during the Russian national championships in December 2021 - news of which emerged at the following year's Winter Games.

But Monday's verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturns that decision, after it ruled that Valieva had been unable to establish that the anti-doping rule violation had not been committed intentionally.

CAS confirmed all of Valieva's results subsequent to the failed test had been expunged and that she would have to forfeit any medals won during her period of disqualification, which would include the team gold she won with Russia in Beijing.

The United States finished second to Russia in the team event, but CAS said the power to strip the latter of its gold medal was "not within the scope of this arbitration procedure and will have to be examined by the sports organisations concerned".

Were the United States to be promoted to the gold medal position, Japan - who finished in third place - would retrospectively win silver and fourth placed Canada bumped up into the bronze medal position.

Despite news of her positive test emerging after the team event, Valieva was cleared to compete in the individual event, but failed to finish in a medal-winning position.

Even if she had secured a spot on the podium, the International Olympic Commitee (IOC) had stressed before the individual competition that medals would not be awarded until a full investigation had been completed.

CAS said as part of its ruling that Valieva's age at the time of the doping violation had no bearing on the sanction it should impose, and that there is a burden on athletes of all ages to prove there had been no intention to commit the violation.

Valieva's four-year ban is backdated to the time of the failed test, meaning it will run until Christmas Day 2025.

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The CAS decision is final and binding, but parties in the case have the right of appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on limited grounds.

Valieva's legal team said it is reviewing the CAS decision before deciding whether to appeal to the Tribunal.

Her lawyers had previously argued Valieva was contaminated by traces of the trimetazidine medication they claimed her grandfather used.

Valieva, who turns 18 in April, has not competed internationally since the Beijing Olympics.

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) said it "welcomes" the CAS decision, calling the doping of children "unforgivable".

"Doctors, coaches or other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full force of the World Anti-Doping Code," a WADA statement read.

"Indeed, WADA encourages governments to consider passing legislation - as some have done already - making the doping of minors a criminal offence."

Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), said the CAS decision had "been a long time coming".

"We are incredibly pleased for clean athletes that this sad saga has finally come to an end and hope they can find joy and satisfaction in the fact that their long wait for justice is over," Mr Tygart said.

"At the same time, our hearts hurt for yet another Russian athlete who the system has failed.

"The points Valieva earned by competing at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games have been disqualified through this decision and it's imperative that the International Skating Union [ISU] immediately handles the technical processes needed to reallocate the medals accordingly."

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