The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is a week old. The United States finally won their first gold medal today and are in contention for another. Unfortunately, there has already been a black mark put on these Olympics.
Russian media reported Wednesday that 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva had tested positive for a banned drug, after the ceremony to present her and her teammates with their Olympic gold medals was postponed for unexplained legal reasons.
Newspapers RBC and Kommersant identified the drug as trimetazidine, which is typically used to treat chest pain. Valieva is part of the Russian Olympic Committee team that won the figure skating team event Monday beating out the United States and Japan.
The teenager has caused some of the greatest excitement at these Beijing Games so far when she landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman in an Olympic competition. Figure skating is held in the highest esteem in Russia, and has an outstanding record at Olympic and world championships. If Valieva was penalized or the team stripped of its medals, there would likely be a national outcry.
This substance has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since 2014, where it is both prohibited in and out of competition. Since 2014 three athletes have received temporary bans for testing positive for the drug.
On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee said that a need for “legal consultation” had caused the postponement of the team medal ceremony. “You can bet your bottom dollar we are doing everything so that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told the media. “I cannot give you any more details, but we will do our utmost.”
Valieva hasn’t commented on the situation but liked an Instagram post by former Russian pairs skater Tatiana Volosozhar supporting her. It is not clear if she has applied for a therapeutic use exemption for the drug.
Journalist Vasily Konov, the deputy general producer at Russian sports channel Match-TV, posted on social media that the sample in question had been taken in December. He did not cite any sources and claimed that trimetazidine “does not help an athlete in any way.” The Associated Press reported that the sample was allegedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia.
If the test was in fact taken in December, it raises questions as to why it took so long for the test to be reported. “That would be a screw-up on somebody’s part if they’re just reporting a December positive now in the middle of the Olympics,” veteran sports lawyer Howard Jacobs told ESPN.
Top international sports lawyer Paul Greene pointed out there’s no requirement that tests be reported within a certain period of time. “Sometimes these things get thrown to the lab and the lab sits on it for months, not through anybody’s nefarious conduct, just through backups in lab testing, etcetera,” he told ESPN. Several factors made this an extremely difficult case, according to Greene. “This is one of the most complicated situations I’ve seen and I’ve done these cases for a long time,” he said.
Valevia and IOC could come to an agreement in which she willingly accepts a sanction, including a warning, Greene said. If not, the case will go to a panel of the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which hears urgent cases on-site in Beijing. CAS will likely rule on two questions in Beijing: Whether to strip the Russians of the team medal and whether Valieva can compete in the singles event.
But the case is further complicated by Valieva’s age. Because she is under 16, she is called a “protected person.” This means that her case does not have to be reported. “If she were a normal minor in a case not involving the Olympics and not the greatest in the world at her sport, it probably would never get announced,” Greene said.
If the Russians were stripped of their gold medal, things would get even crazier. The USA would move up to the gold, Japan would move up to the silver and Canada would win bronze. But, according to Greene, there’s a chance Valieva could lose her medal, but the other five Russian skaters could keep theirs. ISU rules state that a doping violation committed by a member of a team “in connection with an in-competition test automatically leads to a disqualification of the result obtained by the team.” However, it is not clear whether Valieva’s test was in competition or not.
If Valieva were disqualified, Russia would lose its chance to become the first country to sweep the women’s figure skating podium. Her teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova would become the new medal favorites, while Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto and Team USA’s Alyssa Liu could also be contenders.
We’ll have an answer soon says Jacobs. “I would anticipate that this whole thing will move very quickly,” he told ESPN. “If it is actually a positive test that impacts medals, which it seems like it is, I would expect CAS will have a result within 24 hours.”
Both WADA and Valieva can appeal CAS decisions. Valieva could be allowed to compete and receive a sanction later on appeal. “Anything that happens at the Olympics won’t necessarily be a final decision,” said Greene.
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member