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16 Feb, 2022 08:28

IOC warns media over Valieva

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman reminded people that Kamila Valieva’s case is yet to be fully investigated
IOC warns media over Valieva

Any medal won by Kamila Valieva in Beijing will initially have an “asterisk” next to it but jumping to conclusions about the Russian figure skater’s ongoing doping case would be inappropriate, an Olympic official has said.

Valieva competed in the women’s individual event in Beijing on Tuesday after being cleared to do so by an emergency Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel.

Investigations continue into the positive sample Valieva returned at the Russian national championships in December, the results for which were only reported after the Beijing Games had got underway.

In the wake of the case there have been widespread demands in the Western media for the 15-year-old skater to be banned and for swingeing sporting sanctions to be imposed against Russia, even though the details are far from clear.

That was something IOC spokesman Mark Adams reminded the media of in a Beijing briefing on Wednesday.  

“This case has not yet concluded, CAS made that very clear. In fact, as far as I know the B Sample hasn’t even been opened. I think that drawing conclusions like that at this stage is really inappropriate,” Adams said.

“The competition went ahead, CAS decided that the competition went ahead. Would we prefer not to have all this going on? Absolutely. Would we prefer to have a normal competition without this distracting from it? I think everyone would agree with that, the athletes particularly, it’s for the athletes that my heart goes out.

“But the IOC, as with everyone else, has to follow the rules,” Adams added.  

“Due process is very important... think about the personal issue of the person involved. This person has not even had their B Sample opened.

“The case is not even finished yet, so to make all these grand statements I think is a little bit premature.”

Adams said that if title favorite Valieva does go on to win a medal in the women’s event, which she currently leads and which concludes with the free routines on Thursday, then the result would be deemed provisional.

“There will be an asterisk against the result, because they will be preliminary obviously, pending investigation,” Adams said.

The IOC has already announced it will not hold a medal ceremony for the women’s event in Beijing, or for the team figure skating competition in which Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team win gold last week.

There have been calls from members of the US media and elsewhere for Russia to be slapped with a ban from future Olympic Games, with current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctions against the country due to expire at the end of this year.  

That is despite Valieva’s positive sample for the heart drug trimetazidine coming outside of the Games, and the skater returning repeated negative tests before and after the test was taken.   

“I would remind you that it’s one doping case that has taken place here at the Winter Olympic Games so far, this case which isn’t concluded concerns an issue in December,” Adams said.

“This specific case, it’s difficult to make conclusions from a case that hasn’t reached a conclusion yet, and I don’t think you should do that.”

There also appears to have been scant concern from some in the media regarding Valieva’s age as the case has played out, with information leaking to the press ahead of official announcements.

In clearing Valieva to compete, the CAS panel had drawn attention to her status as a minor.

Valieva was tearful after completing her short skate routine on Tuesday and did not speak to the media after the event.

“She is in the center of a lot of speculation. It must be very tough for her,” said IOC spokesman Adams.

“We are of course in touch with the team. Her welfare is the team’s first priority and obviously we are very careful of that.

“We all need to be very responsible in the way we discuss this issue, which to remind you again has not even been concluded yet.”

Questions have been raised as to why the results from the sample analyzed at a WADA-accredited lab in Stockholm took so long to be reported.

Valieva’s team have also suggested that the positive sample may have come from contamination with a heart medication being taken by her grandfather – something he is said to have confirmed in a video shown to the CAS panel during their hearing on Sunday night.