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11 Feb, 2022 09:05

Valieva ‘repeatedly passed doping tests’ before and after positive result – ROC

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva consistently returned negative doping tests before and after the positive result which has thrown her Olympic future into doubt
Valieva ‘repeatedly passed doping tests’ before and after positive result – ROC

Figure skater Kamila Valieva passed doping tests in the period before and after the positive result announced on Friday, including returning negative tests at the Beijing Olympics, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has said.

Valieva is fighting for the right to remain at the Beijing Games after the International Testing Agency (ITA) announced that the 15-year-old had tested positive for a banned substance detected in a sample from December 25.

The sample was taken during the Russian national championships, and was sent to a laboratory in Stockholm accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Tests found the presence of the banned heart medicine trimetazidine, but the result was only reported on February 8 – one day after Valieva had won gold with the ROC in the figure skating team event in Beijing.

Valieva was provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), but had that decision reversed upon appeal on February 9, freeing her to train and compete. 

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Skating Union (ISU) are both challenging the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is set to hear the case before Valieva is due to compete in the ladies’ singles event in Beijing on Tuesday.  

In a statement on Friday, the ROC confirmed the positive test, but affirmed that it had taken place outside the Beijing Games.

“The doping test of the athlete [Valieva] who tested positive does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games,” read an ROC message.

“At the same time, the athlete [Valieva] repeatedly passed doping tests before and after December 25, 2021, including at the European Championships [in January] and already in Beijing during the figure skating tournament. All the results were negative.”

The ROC added that due procedure had been followed when the disciplinary commission of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) decided to lift the initial suspension, but noted that the IOC and ISU also have the right to appeal that decision with CAS.

“At present, the athlete has the right to train and compete in full without restrictions until the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides otherwise regarding her status in relation to the Olympic Games,” the ROC added.

Concerning the status of the ROC’s gold medal in the figure skating team event – where the medal ceremony has been delayed – the Russian statement added: “Given that the athlete's positive doping test was not taken during the Olympic Games, the results of the athlete and the results of the team tournament during the Olympic Games are not subject to automatic review.”

Separately, ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov has questioned the timeframe surrounding Valieva’s case, asking why it took until after the figure skating team event in Beijing for the result to be announced, when the sample was taken back in December. 

Led by Valieva, the ROC team had beaten the USA and Japan to gold in China, with Canada down in fourth. 

A CAS panel is expected to hold an expedited hearing on Valieva’s case ahead of the ladies' singles event on Tuesday. 

The drug in question, trimetazidine, is used to treat angina or chest pain, but has been on the WADA banned list since 2014.

In an advisory note in 2018, WADA noted that trimetazidine – also known as TMZ – could be detected in urine samples as a false positive for lomerizine, a migraine medication which is permitted.

Some have questioned how trimetazidine could be used as a performance-enhancing drug, particularly in a sport like figure skating. 

“Why it’s being considered as doping is not clear to me,” Yaroslav Ashikhmin, a member of the European Society of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, told RT.

I personally use it extremely rarely, even in treatment, since its effect is not strong enough, it just slightly affects the heart function. You can say that it is a heart vitamin. Of course, it is a complete mess with doping control if this drug is identified as doping.”

The Russian figure skating federation said it has “no doubts” that Valieva is a clean athlete, adding that it will “make every effort to clarify the circumstances of the incident.”

Meanwhile, Valieva continues to train along with teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, ignoring questions from the media after completing a session on Friday.