Arbitrators clear Kamila Valieva to compete in Olympics

Kamila Valieva of Russia has been cleared to continue competing in the Beijing Olympics. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI
1 of 5 | Kamila Valieva of Russia has been cleared to continue competing in the Beijing Olympics. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Arbitrators on Monday cleared Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva for competition in the Beijing Olympics after she was thrown last week into the center of a doping scandal.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport issued its decision after a closed-door video hearing that ran for several hours on Sunday night and concluded on Monday, one day before the women's singles figure skating competition begins. The teen phenom is the overwhelming favorite to win the singles gold.


The panel rejected appeals by the International Olympic Committee, the International Skating Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency to overturn a Russian anti-doping body's decision to allow Valieva to compete after she tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication.

In its ruling, the CAS said that preventing the 15-year-old from competing at the Olympics "would cause her irreparable harm" and highlighted Valieva's status as a "protected person" under World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines due to her age, 15.


The decision also pointed to the long delay in testing on the sample, which was taken in December at the Russian figure skating championships in Saint Petersburg, saying "such late notification was not her fault."

"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," it said.

The Russian Olympic Committee praised the decision, saying on Twitter that "we will be supporting her along with the whole country" when she competes in the singles program on Tuesday.

Valieva led the Russians to the team gold in the team figure skating event on Feb. 7, becoming the first woman to land quad jumps at the Olympics along the way.

However, questions began swirling when the medal ceremony for the competition was postponed Tuesday due to an unspecified "legal issue," later revealed to be Valieva's failed drug test.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency, known as RUSADA, suspended Valieva on Tuesday, but reversed its decision the next day upon appeal, attracting challenges from the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union.


"In conclusion, the panel determined that permitting the provisional suspension to remain lifted was appropriate," the CAS said in its ruling Monday.

The decision to allow Valieva to continue on in the Games was condemned by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which said it was "disappointed by the message" it sends.

"It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches and all involved to the highest of standards," Sarah Hirshland, chief executive of the committee, said in a statement. "Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied."

"This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia," she added.

Russian athletes are competing for the second consecutive Olympics under a neutral banner, as the country remains banned from the Games due to a systematic, state-sponsored doping program. However, athletes able to prove that they are "clean" are permitted to participate.

The World Anti-Doping Agency also said it was "disappointed" in the ruling but added that an investigation will continue into the entourage of coaches, trainers and doctors surrounding the teen athlete.


"When a minor is involved in an anti-doping case, there is a requirement to investigate that athlete's support personnel," the agency said in a statement. "RUSADA has already indicated it has begun that process. In addition, WADA's independent Intelligence and Investigations Department will look into it."

While Valieva is cleared to compete in the singles competition, the results from the team event remain in limbo.

The CAS "was not requested to rule on the merits of this case, nor to examine the legal consequences relating to the results of the team event in figure skating, as such issues will be examined in other proceedings," the court's decision said.

Latest Headlines