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Kamila Valieva claimed failed drug test may be due to grandfather's heart medicine

Russian skater Kamila Valieva may have accidentally been exposed to her grandfather's heart medicine, causing her positive drug test, her defense team argued before arbitrators. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI
1 of 4 | Russian skater Kamila Valieva may have accidentally been exposed to her grandfather's heart medicine, causing her positive drug test, her defense team argued before arbitrators. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva may have accidentally ingested trace elements of her grandfather's heart medication, her defense team claimed at a hearing which allowed her to continue competing in the Beijing Olympics despite a failed drug test.

Valieva's mother, Alsu Valieva, and lawyer, Anna Kozmenko, told the Court of Arbitration for Sport that the teen star's grandfather takes trimetazidine, the banned substance that was found in the positive test sample, according to Russian newspaper Pravda on Monday.

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The team suggested at the hearing on Sunday that Valieva could have been exposed by sharing the same glass with her grandfather, who takes the medicine for his artificial heart and accompanies the skater to her training sessions every day.

International Olympic Committee official Denis Oswald confirmed at a press briefing Tuesday that Valieva's argument for the positive result was "contamination which happened with a product her grandfather was taking."

Arbitrators on Monday cleared Valieva to compete after rejecting appeals by the International Olympic Committee, the International Skating Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency to reinstate a suspension Russia's anti-doping agency initially leveled against the 15-year-old skater.

That decision drew widespread criticism from Olympic athletes including former figure skating champions Yuna Kim and Tara Lipinski, as well as Olympic committees in the United States, Canada and Germany.

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The teen phenom is the overwhelming favorite to win the gold in the women's singles event, which starts on Tuesday.

Valieva told Russian media that the days of questions and controversy around her doping scandal "have been very hard for me."

"There are not enough emotions," she said, according to Pravda. " I am happy, but I am emotionally tired. There are tears of happiness and grief a little."

While Valieva has been cleared to compete, the IOC said that no medals would be distributed if she reaches the podium.

"The case is still pending," the IOC's Oswald said Tuesday. "We don't have a final decision on the merits."

Oswald said that Valieva's B-sample has not yet been tested, which an athlete is allowed to request after their A-sample tests positive.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has also announced that it is investigating the entourage surrounding Valieva.

"Of course you can imagine a girl of 15 would not do something wrong alone," Oswald said.

Russian athletes are competing for the second consecutive Olympics under a neutral banner, as the country remains banned from the Games due to a state-sponsored doping program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Athletes able to prove that they are "clean" are permitted to participate.

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Oswald, who chaired the IOC commission that looked into the Russian doping violations at the Sochi Games, said that Valieva's case does not appear to be on the same scale.

"My impression, from what I've seen and heard, is that there is no connection with the institutionalized doping we had in Sochi," he said. "It seems to be a totally different case -- but again, it's difficult to have an opinion without having all the details."

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