Russian doping in focus as Valieva case heads to court

Russian doping in focus as Valieva case heads to court
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Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's doping case, a scandal that rocked the sport and cast a shadow over her country's already embattled anti-doping system, will start to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Tuesday.

Nineteen months after Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win gold in the team event at the 2022 Beijing Games despite testing positive for a banned substance, her competitors are still awaiting justice.

"Given the significant delay, justice seems to have been defeated because the athletes — including Valieva herself, the Russian team and the other teams who stand to obtain medals — haven't had their medal ceremony," U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart told Reuters.

"You just can't possibly attempt to replace what's been lost by the athletes who right now are holding empty medal boxes."

Valieva was 15 when she became the first woman to complete a quadruple jump at the Olympics in the team event.

A day later it emerged that the teenager had tested positive for trimetazidine, designed to prevent angina, at the Russian national championships in December 2021, just weeks before the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) authorised Valieva to take part in the women's single event despite her positive test but said medals for the team event would not be allocated until her case was settled.

The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) disciplinary commission found that Valieva had committed a violation for which she bore "no fault or negligence."

She was not sanctioned but her results from the national championships on the day she tested positive were voided.

RUSADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Skating Union (ISU) are all challenging this decision at sport's highest court CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland, in a three-day hearing.


RUSADA said it was seeking "the appropriate consequences" for the skater's offence, while WADA wants a four-year ban for Valieva that would include voiding her results from Beijing. This effectively would deny ROC their team event gold medal.

ISU also wants to see Valieva banned for the violation.

"We want a just outcome of the case, based on the facts," WADA spokesperson James Fitzgerald said in a statement.

CAS said the parties to the proceedings did not want a public hearing and denied a request by the silver medal-winning U.S. team to have an observer attend on their behalf.

Vincent Zhou, one of the U.S. skaters, said in a statement on Monday that the global anti-doping system was "failing athletes."

"An open and transparent hearing would go a long way towards helping athletes understand any decision that is rendered," he said.

"Transparency would build confidence in a global anti-doping system that has lost the trust of its most important stakeholders: athletes."

Valieva and representatives of RUSADA will not travel to Lausanne to be heard by the court, appearing via video link instead.

CAS has said it was unclear when a ruling would be announced.

Anti-doping experts do not expect it for months.

Photo: Reuters
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