Russian star figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a drug called trimetazidine in December before she won the team event gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics and placed first in the first part of the individual competition.
According to The Associated Press, lawyers for the 15-year-old Russian figure skater argued contamination from heart medication her grandfather was taking caused the positive test in a sample taken weeks before the Olympics opened.
On Monday, a court said Valieva could compete in Tuesday’s individual competition. Valieva came in first in the short program.
What is trimetazidine and why is it banned? Here’s what we know now.
What is trimetazidine?
Trimetazidine is designed to help alleviate angina attacks, according to the European Medicines Agency. An angina attack is a squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest and is a symptom of heart disease.
The drug increases blood flow efficiency and improves a person’s endurance. The drug causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing the heart to work more efficiently for a longer duration of time.
Trimetazidine is a drug prohibited for use by Olympic athletes and is listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the category of “hormone and metabolic modulators.”
Does the drug work?
The drug is usually prescribed along with other drugs to treat angina. It is prescribed in European countries but is not approved for use in the United States.
The drug shows a small improvement in exercise tolerance for older patients who already have severe heart disease, doctors in Russia told The Associated Press.
“The medicine wasn’t, of course, tested on athletes, and it wasn’t designed for athletes,” Dr. Anton Rodionov, a cardiologist in Moscow, told the AP.
The effect of the drug on healthy people — like a 15-year-old elite athlete — is likely to be “smaller than small,” Rodionov said.
Why is trimetazidine a banned substance?
Trimetazidine was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2014. While it may not provide an immediate boost to an athlete, it helps the heart to work more efficiently, and may offer an athlete the chance to train longer and harder.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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