Winter Olympics: Decision expected Monday in case of Russian skater Kamila Valieva

BEIJING — The Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected to issue a decision Monday on whether to allow Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to continue competing in the Beijing Olympics following a closed-door hearing Sunday night.

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Arbitrators will hear arguments from the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to lift a provisional suspension of Valieva after a lab determined that she failed a pre-Olympics doping test. Officials said a Swedish lab reported last week that the 15-year-old tested positive for a banned heart medication based on a sample taken more than six weeks earlier in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sunday’s hearing is expected to last as long as six hours, The New York Times reported. Matthieu Reeb, director general of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, told The Associated Press that Valieva would testify at the hearing by video, as would witnesses and experts.

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Valieva helped Russia to win gold Monday in the team figure skating event, becoming the first woman to land a quadruple jump during an Olympics.

News of Valieva’s positive doping test began to trickle out in reports hours later.

Officials with the Russian Olympic Committee questioned the timing of the test results, with the group’s president, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, noting that under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s handbook, drug test results should be reported within 20 days of the receipt of a sample, according to The Washington Post and Russian news agency Tass. Officials said Valieva’s sample was collected Dec. 25 during the Russian Figure Skating Championships. It was not immediately clear when the Swedish lab received the sample.

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“It looks very strange that the sample traveled from St. Petersburg to Stockholm for almost a month,” Pozdnyakov said, according to Tass. “This raises very serious questions for me, and it looks very much like someone was holding this sample until the end of the figure skaters’ team competitions.”

In a statement obtained by the Post, officials with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency said that the laboratory said, “The delay in analysis and reporting … was caused by another wave of COVID-19, an increase in illness among laboratory staff and quarantine rules.”

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency lifted Valieva’s suspension after she challenged it last week, allowing her to continue to compete in the Winter Olympics. If the decision holds, Valieva is considered a strong favorite to win the women’s individual competition scheduled to take place Tuesday, the AP reported.

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