12 February 2022

15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva set to find out on Monday whether she can stay in Olympics

12 February 2022

Fifteen-year-old Kamila Valieva will find out her Olympic fate on Monday, one day before the scheduled women’s figure skating competition in Beijing, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has announced.

The International Skating Union has joined the International Testing Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency in registering an appeal against a decision by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to lift a provisional suspension and enable her to continue to compete.

Valieva tested positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine on Tuesday, after starring in Russia’s victory in the figure skating team event the day before, for which the medals have yet to be awarded.

Kamila Valieva has been training since her provisional suspension was lifted by RUSADA (Jeff Roberson/AP) (AP)

CAS confirmed in a statement that the three applications will be heard by video conference in Beijing on Sunday evening, with the decision notified to the parties concerned on Monday afternoon.

Valieva once again practised at the training hall in Beijing on Saturday, spending around 45 minutes on the ice, at one point pausing and appearing to be in tears as she shared a lingering embrace with her controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze.

Earlier, in a move that appeared to be aimed at easing the intense media pressure surrounding the teenager, both RUSADA and the International Olympic Committee said they were broadening the focus of their investigations to include members of Valieva’s team.

RUSADA said in a statement: “Since the athlete is a minor, RUSADA launched a probe in regard to the staff of the figure skater.

“The prime aim of this investigation is to reveal all details of possible violations of anti-doping rules in the interests of ‘a person in defence.’”

The IOC continued to deflect the majority of questions relating to the issue on Saturday, citing the ongoing process, but its communications chief Mark Adams did mirror the RUSADA statement by implying it may be appropriate to look into those behind Valieva’s career.

“The IOC would welcome an investigation into the entourage in all cases where it’s relevant,” said Adams.

Eteri Tutberidze is in Beijing to support members of her Sambo-70 club (David J Phillip/AP) (AP)

“We’ve strengthened WADA, they have an intelligence and investigation unit. We would very much encourage this in all cases. The entourage in the past has been overlooked… in this case as in all others we would welcome a strong line from them on that.”

One of the key figures is Tutberidze, whose Sambo-70 club in Moscow has churned out champions including 2018 gold medallist Alina Zagitova, but which has also been strongly criticised for the number of career-threatening injuries afflicting its skaters.

Tutberidze is in Beijing with Valieva, and told Russia’s Channel One: “I am absolutely sure that Kamila is clean and innocent. I do not know who decides what, but I hope that justice will somehow prevail.”

Valieva submitted her positive test during the Russian Championships on Christmas Day. RUSADA claims the delay in acquiring the results related to a Covid-19 outbreak at the Stockholm laboratory responsible for analysing the sample.

Valieva celebrated her success in the team event with controversial coach Tutberidze (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

It is understood that the delay could form a crucial part of the defence for Valieva’s team, given WADA’s own international standard rules, published in 2021, which state that “all AAFS (adverse analytical findings) must be reported by the laboratory within 20 days of receipt of the sample.”

The Russian Olympic Committee has also stressed that Valieva has subsequently tested negative for any banned substances, both during the build-up to the Olympics in January, and during the Games themselves.

Valieva is already considered by many good judges to be the greatest female figure skater of all time. During her free skate in the team event last week, she became the first female skater to land quad jumps at the Olympics.

Tutberidze’s daughter Diana Davis, who was born in the US but moved to Russia at the age of two, competed in the ice dancing competition on Saturday night beside partner Gleb Smolkin.

Smolkin deflected questions about Tutberidze but said of Valieva: “She is a great skater and she has definitely a great future – it doesn’t matter what happened or what’s going to happen.”

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