February 26th, 2024

Valieva disqualified in Olympic doping case, Canada likely to be upgraded to bronze

By The Associated Press on January 29, 2024.

FILE — Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, competes in the women's team free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing. Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been disqualified from the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport comes almost two years after Valieva's doping case caused turmoil at the Beijing Games. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – Canada should be upgraded to bronze after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was disqualified from the 2022 Olympics on Monday, almost two years after her doping case caused turmoil at the Beijing Games.

The verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport means the Russians are set to be stripped of the gold medal in figure skating’s team event.

The United States finished second and is set to be named Olympic champion instead. Japan originally finished third and Canada placed fourth.

A message left with Skate Canada was not immediately returned.

The International Olympic Committee decided not to present any medals for the event in Beijing, where the 15-year-old Valieva was the star performer hours before her positive test for a banned heart medicine was revealed.

CAS said it upheld appeals led by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which asked the court to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics and ban her. A Russian sports tribunal had cleared her of any blame.

The CAS judges banned her for four years, through December 2025 – about seven weeks before the next Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

The IOC is responsible for reallocating medals and its executive board is next scheduled to meet in March.

Canada finished fourth in the overall standings with 26 medals, one behind Germany. Norway was first with 37 medals and the Russian Olympic Committee was second with 32.

Valieva’s lawyers had argued she was contaminated by traces of the trimetazidine medication they said her grandfather used.

“Having carefully considered all the evidence put before it,” the court said in a statement, “the CAS panel concluded that Ms. Valieva was not able to establish, on the balance of probabilities and on the basis of the evidence before the Panel, that she had not committed the (doping violation) intentionally.”

The judges decided that, according to Russian anti-doping rules, Valieva could not benefit from having been a minor at the time of the positive test.

There was “no basis under the rules to treat them any differently from an adult athlete,” said the court, which did not publish its detailed verdict pending a review of confidentiality issues.

The case provoked legal chaos at the Olympics because Valieva’s sample, taken six weeks earlier at the Russian national championships, was not notified by a laboratory in Sweden until hours after she competed in the team event on Feb. 7, 2022.

Valieva continued to skate at the Olympics after rulings by a Russian tribunal and a separate CAS panel did not hold her responsible as a minor.

The intense scrutiny on Valieva led to an error-filled skate in the individual event, where she had been favoured for gold but dropped to fourth place.

The drama continued when she left the ice. The reaction of her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, was fiercely criticized by skating experts and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Bach said in Beijing one day later he had been “very, very disturbed” to watch the “tremendous coldness” of Valieva’s entourage.

The case came to CAS to challenge a Russian anti-doping tribunal verdict in late 2022 that Valieva was not at fault. That ruling suggested disqualifying her only from the national championships and letting her keep her Olympic results and gold medal.

WADA asked CAS to impose a four-year ban and to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics. The International Skating Union requested a two-year ban and disqualification.

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With files from The Canadian Press.

AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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