The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) refused to impose a suspension on the teenager
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva is free to compete in the Winter Olympics in Beijing after the Sports Court (CAS) rejected a claim to suspend the teenager, in a case involving a positive doping test taken in December.
The decision comes just a day before the singles figure skating competition for women in Beijing, where 15-year-old Valieva is the gold medal favorite and can now compete.
In announcing the decision, CAS has quoted Valieva’s “protected person” status under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code due to her age.
It also noted that Valieva had not tested positive in Beijing and that a suspension of her at the Games would cause “irreparable harm in these circumstances.”
Referring to the fact that Valieva’s results from the doping investigation carried out on 25 December were not reported until 8 February – after she had competed and won gold in the team competition in Beijing – CAS said that there were “serious problems” regarding the “untimely announcement”. of the result, which hindered Valieva’s ability to establish a legal defense.
The welcome verdict for the Russian team in Beijing comes after a CAS panel of three people held an emergency hearing at a hotel in the Chinese capital on Sunday, which lasted late into the night, and where Valieva himself had testified via video link.
The case concerned a positive doping test for the banned heart drug trimethazidine in a sample taken during the Russian national championships in December.
The test result – which came from a laboratory in Stockholm accredited by WADA – had taken more than six weeks to report, and came after Valieva had already helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to gold in the figure skating team in Beijing.
Valieva had initially been suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), but that decision was overturned following an appeal.
In an attempt to temporarily ban Valieva again, each of WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Skating Union (ISU) had taken their case to a special CAS panel.
The IOC had earlier on Monday said it would accept all CAS decisions regarding the skater’s right to compete in Beijing, even if investigations will continue by the anti-doping authorities into the positive test that Valieva returned in December.
The reigning European and Russian champion Valieva – who also holds a number of world record results – is now free to line up on the ice when the women’s individual events start at Capital Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.
Valieva’s status as a favorite for individual gold had already been strengthened with her dazzling display at the team event earlier in the games.
Valieva created a spellbinding short skating routine before becoming the first woman ever to land a four-wheeled jump at the Olympics during her freestyle.
Valieva has already participated in the team event in Beijing. Mario Hommes / DeFodi images via Getty Images
But the medal ceremony for that event was delayed because Valieva was forced to contend with huge speculation once her lawsuit has unfolded.
The CAS decision noted that it had not been asked to examine the legal implications related to the outcome of the team event, and that “such issues will be examined in other proceedings.”
This means that the status of the ROC gold medal may still be at risk, in an event where the team finished ahead of the USA and Japan, while Canada was four.
READ MORE: Anti-doping officials explain the mysterious Valieva test delay
Members of Valieva’s team, including coach Eteri Tutberidze, have consistently said they have “no doubt” about the youngster’s innocence, while the ROC has noted that Valieva has repeatedly passed doping tests before and after her positive results in December.
Questions were generally raised about why it took so long before the positive test result was reported, which is due to Covid-related delays at the current Swedish laboratory.
Both Tutberdize and ROC President Stanislav Podznyakov had noted the unusual circumstances surrounding the delayed test result.
Valieva continued to train as the legal drama unfolded. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Image
After Valieva won her legal battle to continue competing in Beijing, it is unlikely that the intense media focus on the teenager will disappear as attention will now be turned to how the trial will affect her performance on Tuesday.
The youngster was going on the ice to train in Beijing just 30 minutes after the CAS decision was announced.
Together with Valieva, the ROC team will also be represented in the singles competition for women by 2021 world champion Anna Shcherbakova and four-jump star Alexandra Trusova.
After Tuesday’s short skate program, the event ends with the free skate routines on Thursday in Beijing.