Kamila Valieva: What We Know About Russian Olympic Skater’s Reported Positive Drug Test
Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva has reportedly tested positive for a banned drug at the 2022 Olympics—leading the medal ceremony to be delayed due to “legal issues” and putting her gold medal into question—here’s everything we know about the 15-year-old’s scandal in Beijing.
The Russian Olympic Committee finished at the top of the podium for the figure skating team competition, in part from Valieva’s record-setting performance, though the medal ceremony scheduled for Tuesday had been delayed from what the International Olympic Committee called a need for a “legal consultation.”
Russian newspapers reported Wednesday that Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug usually used to treat chest pain due to reduced blood flow to the heart.
The World Anti-Doping Agency added trimetazidine to its list of banned substances in 2014, prohibiting it both in and out of competitions because it can help improve endurance and increase blood flow.
The Associated Press reports the sample was obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia.
If the test does date back to December, it is unclear why it took so long for the test to be reported, though international sports lawyer Paul Greene told ESPN there is no requirement for tests to be reported in a certain period of time.
Valieva went to practice as normal and ran through her routine on Thursday—a sign the federation isn’t accepting any finding that would eliminate her, ESPN reports.
Russian figure skating federation spokeswoman Olga Ermolina said, “She is not suspended,” following Valieva’s practice on Thursday, adding no further details. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters there would be no comment on the reports until there are explanations from either Russian sports officials or the IOC.
What We Don’t Know
It is unclear if Valieva has any heart conditions, or if she applied for a therapeutic use exemption.
What To Watch For
Greene told ESPN the IOC and Valieva could come to an agreement where she accepts a sanction, and is still allowed to compete in the games. If not, the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport would decide whether to strip the Russian team of their medals, and whether Valieva is eligible to compete in the individual competition, where she is a gold medal favorite. Valieva’s case is further complicated by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code, which designates athletes under the age of 16 as a “Protected Person.” This means officials cannot identify a competitor who is guilty of a doping violation if they are under the age of 16.
If Valieva had tested positive for the drug while competing in the Olympics, she could cost her team their gold medals. A doping violation committed by a member of a team “in connection with an in-competition test automatically leads to disqualification of the result obtained by the team,” according to International Skating Union rules. As Valieva’s test was reportedly not in-competition at the Olympics, her team members may be able to keep their medals.
Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was banned for three months after testing positive for trimetazidine in 2014. Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva also tested positive for the banned drug during the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. A U.S. swimmer, Madisyn Cox, appealed a two-year ban that was reduced to six months after a vitamin supplement she had been taking was contaminated with trimetazidine.
Valieva became a heavy favorite for the gold medal in Beijing when she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic history, winning both the women’s short program and the free skate to help the ROC secure the gold medal in the team competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from competing in international sporting events for several years, including the 2022 Olympics, due to the country’s state-sponsored doping program dating back to at least 2012. Russian athletes compete as a neutral party and represent the ROC in Beijing.
Figure Skater Kamila Valieva—Gold Medal Favorite—Reportedly At Center Of Russian Drug Scandal At 2022 Olympics (Forbes)
Russia’s Embroiled In Another Olympic Drug Scandal. Here’s How It All Started. (Forbes)