Updated Feb 11, 2022 - Sports

Russian figure skating star tests positive for banned substance

The Russian Olympic Committee's Kamila Valieva skates during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on Feb. 7 in Beijing, China. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Russian Olympic Committee vowed Friday to take "exhaustive measures" to protect the figure skating team's Winter Olympics gold medal after star skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned substance, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Valieva, 15, was in the ROC group that beat the U.S. into second place in the team figure skating competition on Monday, but a "legal issue" delayed the scheduled medal ceremony, officials said. The ITA confirmed Friday that this was due to Valieva testing positive for trimetazidine.

  • Russia has had an extensive history of doping, and in 2020 was banned from using its name and flag at the Olympics because of its state-run doping program.
  • The country's athletes in Beijing and also at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been competing as the Russian Olympic Committee.

Driving the news: Valieva was tested at last December's Russian national championships and her positive result was confirmed to the ITA on Tuesday, per a statement from the agency.

  • The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) imposed an automatic provisional suspension, which it lifted following Valieva's appeal Wednesday.
  • The ITA said it would lead an appeal against this decision on behalf of the International Olympic Committee in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
  • "The IOC will exercise its right to appeal and not to wait for the reasoned decision by RUSADA, because a decision is needed before the next competition the athlete is due to take part in (Women Single Skating, 15 February 2022)," the agency said.

What they're saying: The ROC said in its statement that Valieva had tested negative before and after her Dec. 25 positive result that was reported by a Swedish lab last Tuesday.

  • "The Russian Olympic Committee is taking exhaustive measures to protect the rights and interests of the ROC Team and to preserve the honestly won Olympic gold medal," the ROC added.

Worth noting: Valieva was considered a favorite to win the women's individual event.

What to watch: If the ITA's appeal is successful, Team USA would likely see its silver medal upgraded to gold and Japan's bronze bumped to silver.

  • Team Canada, which finished fourth, would get the bronze medal.

Go deeper: Full Axios Winter Olympics coverage

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the ROC.

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