Updated Feb 14, 2022 - Sports

Court lets Russian figure skater compete despite failed drug test

Kamila Valieva of Team ROC skates during a training session on day ten of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium practice rink on February 14
Russian Olympic Committee figure skater Kamila Valieva skates during a training session on Day 10 of the 2022 Winter Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium practice rink in Beijing on Feb. 14. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Russian Olympic figure skater Kamila Valieva will be allowed to keep competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics, but no medals will be handed out for anyone yet for events in which she finishes in the top 3.

Why it matters: Valieva is a favorite to win the women's individual figure skating event, which begins on Tuesday.

  • The World Anti-Doping Agency, one of several groups that appealed to The Court of Arbitration for Sport to try and stop Valieva from competing, said it's "disappointed" with the ruling, accusing the panel of failing to apply the terms of WADA's code in Valieva's case.
  • U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland noted in a statement Russia's history of state-run doping programs, saying: "This appears to be another chapter in the systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia."

Details: The CAS panel ruled that banning Valieva from the Beijing Olympics would cause her "irreparable harm," noting there were "exceptional circumstances" in her case and that she's a minor and, therefore, a "protected person."

  • CAS said there had been "serious issues of untimely notification of the results" that affected Valieva's "ability to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit while such late notification was not her fault."
  • So far, there will be no ceremony for the team skating event won by Valieva and the Russian team.

The big picture: Valieva was in the Russian Olympic Committee group that won gold, beating the second-place U.S. in the team figure skating competition last Monday.

  • The medal ceremony was delayed following a Swedish lab's report a day later that she'd tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine. It transpired that Valieva returned the result at the Russian national championships on Dec. 25.
  • She successfully appealed her initial suspension to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. WADA, the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union and other groups petitioned CAS to challenge this decision.

Between the lines: The CAS ruling doesn't address the gold medal she won with Team ROC last week.

  • It has only determined that she can continue skating at the Beijing Games.

What to watch: WADA will decide whether Team ROC can keep the gold medal it won over the U.S. at a date yet to be announced publicly.

  • It's unclear if this would be before the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

What they're saying: WADA said in a statement, "It appears the CAS panel decided not to apply the terms of the code, which does not allow for specific exceptions to be made in relation to mandatory provisional suspensions for 'protected persons,' including minors."

  • The other side: Valieva's coach Eteri Tutberidze told Russian media ahead of the ruling that the athlete was "innocent and clean," per the New York Times.

Flashback: Russia banned from using name and flag at next 2 Olympics over doping charges

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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