ROC figure skater Kamila Valieva will be allowed to compete in the women's singles figure skating event at the 2022 Winter Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Monday that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the 15-year-old skater.
The court's statement on the ruling primarily cited Valieva's status as a minor and thus "Protected Person" under the World Anti-Doping Code, the untimely notification of Valieva's positive test -- which was taken on Dec. 25 but not reported until Feb. 8 -- and the "irreparable harm" preventing her from competing in the Olympics under those circumstances may cause.
The CAS ruling Monday pertained only to Valieva's eligibility to compete in the women's singles event in Beijing. It did not rule on the entirety of Valieva's doping case, which stems from a positive test for the banned substance trimetazidine, detected in a sample collected from Valieva at the 2022 Russian Figure Skating Championships on Dec. 25.
The International Testing Agency (ITA) disclosed on Feb. 11 that Valieva had been provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on Feb. 8 -- following the conclusion of the figure skating team event at the 2022 Winter Olympics, in which she helped ROC to victory. The Stockholm lab, accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), reported Valieva's positive test on Feb. 8, per the ITA.
Valieva's suspension was subsequently lifted by RUSADA on Feb. 9 following a challenge by the athlete, per the ITA, allowing her continued participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics. RUSADA, which had jurisdiction over the Russian Figure Skating Championships, did not at the time provide grounds for the lifting of the suspension. The IOC, WADA and International Skating Union all subsequently appealed RUSADA's decision to lift the suspension, an appeal that CAS denied on Monday.
CAS' reasoning for declining to impose Valieva's suspension was as follows:
"On the basis of the very limited facts of this case, and after consideration of the relevant legal issues, [the CAS Panel] has determined that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the Athlete due to the following exceptional circumstances:
"a) The Athlete is a “Protected Person” under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC);
"b) The RUSADA Anti-Doping Rules and the WADC are silent with respect to provisional suspension imposed on protected persons, while these rules have specific provisions for different standards of evidence and for lower sanctions in the case of protected persons;
"c) The Panel considered fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm, and the relative balance of interests as between the Applicants and the Athlete, who did not test positive during the Olympic Games in Beijing and is still subject to a disciplinary procedure on the merits following the positive anti-doping test undertaken in December 2021; in particular, the Panel considered that preventing the Athlete from competing at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances;
"d) The CAS Panel also emphasized that there were serious issues of untimely notification of the results of the Athlete’s anti-doping test that was performed in December 2021 which impinged upon the Athlete’s ability to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit, while such late notification was not her fault, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022."
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee voiced its disagreement with the CAS decision via the following statement from USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland.
The drug for which Valieva tested positive, trimetazidine, is common for patients with angina (chronic chest pain). It allows the heart muscle to function more normally when lower levels of oxygen are delivered to it.
For sports, it means the athlete could potentially continue to perform at a higher heart rate for a longer period of time.
Valieva, 15, helped the ROC team to first place in the figure skating team event at the beginning of the Winter Olympics. She became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics when she completed a quad salchow in her free skate performance during the team event on Feb. 6. She then landed a quadruple toeloop, winning the free skate by over 30 points with a score of 178.92.
The medal ceremony for the team event has been delayed following the disclosure of Valieva's positive test, and it remains unclear when a decision on awarding the team event medals will be made. The United States finished second in the team event, followed by Japan in third and Canada in fourth.
Athletes from Russia are competing in Beijing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee, since Russia -- the country -- is officially banned from the Olympics until this coming December, stemming from the revelation that it had run a state-sponsored doping program in 2014.
The women's singles competition begins with the short program on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 5:00 a.m. ET, followed by the free skate on Thursday, Feb. 17, at 5:00 a.m. ET. Valieva is expected to be a strong medal contender in the event. The United States will be represented in the event by Karen Chen, Mariah Bell and Alysa Liu.