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28 Jul, 2022 11:44

Valieva doping case developments expected ‘soon’

The Russian figure skater was engulfed in a scandal at the Beijing Winter Olympics
Valieva doping case developments expected ‘soon’

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Witold Banka has said he expects a hearing in Russia on the case of figure skater Kamila Valieva to be held “soon.”

Valieva emerged as the biggest story at the Beijing Winter Olympics in February after it was reported that she had tested positive for banned heart drug trimetazidine in a sample taken several weeks before the Games began.

Valieva, who was 15 at the time, had already helped Russia to gold in the team event in Beijing before the news broke.

The scandal appeared to take a toll as she slumped to fourth in the individual event despite being the heavy favorite for gold. 

Instead, the title went to Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova, with compatriot Alexandra Trusova claiming silver. 

Valieva’s case is in the hands of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which has been asked to resolve the investigation by August 8.

Speaking to Inside the Games, WADA chief Banka said he expects important developments shortly, but cautioned against firm deadlines due to the complexities involved.   

“We expect that they [RUSADA] have to organize soon the hearing,” Banka said.

“This is our expectation and I think they will do it soon. If we are not happy, we can always use the possibility to go directly to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland].

“Let’s give us a bit of time to assess it. This month, RUSADA has asked for documents and materials so it is not like they stopped activities.

“They are following and as far as I know they plan to organize the hearing quite soon. We will monitor it.”

Valieva’s positive doping test was only reported after she had helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to team gold in Beijing, even though her sample had been taken around six weeks previously at the Russian Championships on December 25.

That delay led to questions surrounding the WADA-accredited laboratory in Sweden. WADA officials pointed to Covid-related delays and accused RUSADA of not marking it as a priority, although Russian officials dismissed that argument.

WADA, along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Skating Union (ISU), had attempted to ban Valieva from competing in the individual event in Beijing, but lost their case at an emergency CAS hearing in the Chinese capital.

The CAS ruling cited Valieva’s status as a “protected person” due her to age and said there were “serious issues” regarding the “untimely notification” of the doping test result.

Russian officials and members of Valieva’s team have denied any wrongdoing, pointing out that she frequently passed other doping tests.

It was argued at her CAS hearing that trimetazidine may have entered her system via contamination through heart medication her grandfather was taking.

Others, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have questioned how the substance would even benefit someone in a sport such as figure skating, asserting that her perfection cannot be achieved dishonestly with the help of some additional means [or] manipulation.”  

Valieva, now 16, remains the world record points holder for her short and free skate routines, as well for her overall points total.

Like her compatriots, Valieva is set to miss international events in the 2022/23 season because of the ban imposed by the ISU on Russian and Belarusian skaters due to the conflict in Ukraine.