Russian figure skating superstar Kamila Valieva did test positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, the International Testing Agency confirmed Friday on behalf of the International Olympic Committee, and her case will be considered at an expedited hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before the women’s individual competition begins Feb. 15.
Valieva, 15, already powered the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team to gold in the team event, which ended Monday, Feb. 7. Whether Russia gets to keep that gold medal will likely be determined after the Beijing Games end. This weekend’s CAS hearing will determine only whether Valieva can participate in the individual event. She is the 2022 European champion and Russian national champion and is heavily favored to win the women’s event if she participates. Valieva practiced Thursday and Friday as if she will compete.
The International Test Agency explained Friday that a Swedish lab found trimetazidine in a sample taken from Valieva on Dec. 25, after she won the Russian national championship, but for reasons not yet disclosed, the lab only reported the positive result on Feb. 8. The Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA immediately suspended Valieva from the Games, but a disciplinary committee lifted her suspension on appeal Wednesday.
RUSADA’s justification for lifting the preliminary suspension is not yet public, but the ITA said it “will be issued shortly to all concerned parties.” The ITA will be representing the IOC in the CAS hearing, seeking to reinstate Valieva’s suspension. RUSADA says Valieva tested negative before and after the Christmas sample. But she “will likely be disqualified from her Russian national title,” whatever happens in Beijing, The Associated Press reports.
The fate of the team event medal will be determined by the International Skating Union, the sport’s governing body, “only after a final decision on the full merits of the case has been taken,” the ITA said. First, RUSADA will investigate and issue a judgement on Valieva’s doping case, and that verdict could be appealed before the CAS.
Because the World Anti-Doping Code gives minors extra protections, Valieva “could ultimately receive just a simple reprimand,” AP reports. But another doping scandal could extend the ban on Russia participating in the Olympics, set to expire in December. Russian Olympians have been participating without the Russian flag or anthem since after the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when to a massive state-run doping operation was uncovered.