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14 Feb, 2022 18:21

Russia has ‘hijacked’ Beijing Games, rages US anti-doping boss

USADA CEO Travis Tygart also claimed Russia has 'stolen the moment from clean athletes' in the Chinese capital for the 'sixth consecutive' Games
Russia has ‘hijacked’ Beijing Games, rages US anti-doping boss

US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart alleged that Russia has "hijacked" the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and has "stolen the moment from clean athletes" for what is the "sixth consecutive" edition of the Games.

Tygart made his comments after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cleared 15-year-old Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) figure skating prodigy Kamila Valieva to compete in the women’s individual figure skating event. 

And though Tygart conceded that the CAS decision should be respected, he alleged it was a "rushed one."

"Only time will tell if [Valieva] should be competing in these Games and whether or not all of her results will be disqualified," Tygart said.

Tygart claimed that if Valieva does end up being banned, this will "reveal what a farce the handling of the Russia state-sponsored doping system by the IOC [International Olympic Committee] has been over the last eight years."

"If Russia had followed the rules, we would know for certain the outcome of the Figure Skating Team Event [which the ROC won with Valieva's help] and those athletes who gave it their all could have their podium moment during these Games as they rightfully deserve with the world in celebration with them," Tygart fumed. 

Tygart showed sympathy towards Valieva, who returned a positive sample for a doping test in December, in a statement obtained by CNN where he claimed she had been "let down" by anti-doping systems.

"We all should have compassion for her and withhold judgment on her but instead demand that the global system reform to ensure these types of failures do not occur," Tygart said.

WADA president Witold Banka stated that child dopers should be banned from sport for life and receive jail time, while also suggesting that Russian authorities must make changes to entourage culture.

"The doping of children is evil and unforgivable, and the doctors, coaches and other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing drugs to minors should be banned for life, and personally I also think that they should be in prison," Banka said to Reuters.

With the case now under the control of WADA's Russian counterpart RUSADA, Banka demanded that the body "completes a strong investigation" into Valieva's entourage.

"We will also look into that and make sure that a proper investigation is carried out," vowed Banka, with WADA able to lodge an appeal if they are unsatisfied with RUSADA's report.

Banka then moved on to suggest that changes must be made in Russian culture "in terms of entourage"

"We still have the old generation of coaches and doctors who are working with the minors, with the athletes, so it's our strong demand that... the Russian ministry of sports change this situation," he insisted.

To the opposition of the IOC, WADA and the International Skating Union (ISU) – who had their appeal thrown out by the CAS to reinstate the youngster's RUSADA suspension – Valieva is set to complete her short program on Tuesday and a free skate routine on Thursday.

If Valieva wins gold or any other medal, however, the IOC has already announced that it won't hold a medal ceremony.

Protesting Valieva's innocence, the ROC noted that the skater passed tests before and after her positive result for trimetazidine became public knowledge on February 8.

Coach Eteri Tutberidze said that Valieva is "innocent and clean", which is a similar line taken by the Russian Skating Union, who are adamant Valieva has done no wrong.

There is also conflicting information as to why the test results took some six weeks to surface.

RUSADA cited Covid issues at the Swedish laboratory in Stockholm, while WADA has accused the Russian authorities of not flagging the test as a priority case.