Feb 12, 2022 - Sports

Russian figure skating star's eligibility hearing over positive drug test set for Sunday

Kamila Valieva. Photo by Nikolay Muratkin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva's eligibility hearing after testing positive for a banned substance will be held Sunday with a decision on her status for the women's individual competition expected to come the next day, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in a statement.

Driving the news: Valieva, 15, tested positive for trimetazidine after last December's Russian national championships and had been provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) before winning an appeal.

The big picture: Valieva is the favorite to win the women's individual competition which starts Tuesday, but could still be suspended for her positive drug test.

  • The panel of arbitrators will meet Sunday and consider an appeal filed by several groups, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union. The groups have challenged the RUSADA's decision to lift Valieva's appeal, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: 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.

  • Valieva and her teammates had won gold in the team competition competing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), but the medal ceremony was delayed.
  • If the appeal is successful and the ROC's gold medal is stripped, 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.

What they're saying: Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, told Russia’s state-run TV network that "this is a very complicated and controversial situation," the Times reports.

  • “There are many questions and very few answers," she said.
  • “I wanted to say that we are absolutely confident that Kamila is innocent and clean," Tutberidze added.

The ROC has also defended Valieva, saying that she "repeatedly passed doping tests" in Beijing, CNN reports.

  • "The doping test of an athlete who tested positive does not apply to the period of the Olympic Games. At the same time, the athlete repeatedly passed doping tests before and after December 25, 2021, including while already in Beijing during the figure skating tournament. All the results are negative," the ROC statement said.
  • "The Russian Olympic Committee is taking comprehensive measures to protect the rights and interests of the members of the ROC Team, and to keep the honestly won Olympic gold medal."
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