Winter Olympics: Russian skater Kamila Valieva blames grandfather’s medicine for failed test

BEIJING — Attorneys for Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva are blaming the 15-year-old’s failed December drug test on contamination from her grandfather’s heart medicine.

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According to The Associated Press and Reuters, Denis Oswald, the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Commission’s permanent chair, said Valieva’s defense in a Sunday hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport was that a mix-up “happened with a product her grandfather was taking.”

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On Monday, the court cleared Valieva to compete in the women’s individual event this week at the Beijing Olympics, the AP reported. The ruling came after the court heard arguments against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to lift the skater’s provisional suspension after a Swedish lab determined that she tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine on Dec. 25. The lab didn’t flag the positive test until Feb. 8, the day after Russia’s skaters won the team competition at the Olympics, the AP reported. Valieva made history in the team event by becoming the first woman to land a quad jump at the Olympics.

Trimetazidine, typically used to treat angina and vertigo, is prohibited because the metabolic agent can improve blood flow and endurance, the AP previously reported.

Following Monday’s ruling, the court’s director general, Matthieu Reeb, said the panel “considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympics would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” according to the AP. The court also cited issues with the “untimely notification” of the positive drug test and pointed out that Valieva’s tests at the Olympics have been clean, the news agency reported.

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Although the court’s decision allows Valieva to compete in the women’s single skate Tuesday and Thursday, any medal she wins could still be stripped from her pending the results of the full investigation, according to the AP. That probe reportedly will focus on Valieva’s coaches, doctors and other members of her entourage because she is a protected minor.

In addition, the IOC’s executive board announced Monday that it will not hold medal ceremonies for events in which Valieva finishes among the top three, including the team figure skating competition.

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“In the interest of fairness to all athletes and the [National Olympic Committees] concerned, it would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 as it would include an athlete who on the one hand has a positive A-sample, but whose violation of the anti-doping rules has not yet been established on the other hand,” the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC went on to say that if Valieva finishes among the top three in the women’s single skate, “no flower ceremony and no medal ceremony will take place” during the Games.

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The organization also has asked the International Skating Union to allow a 25th competitor to participate in the women’s free skate Thursday if Valieva finishes in the top 24 in the short program Tuesday.

“The IOC will, in consultation with the athletes and NOCs concerned, organize dignified medal ceremonies once the case of Ms. Valieva has been concluded,” the statement read.

Russia is already competing in Beijing as the Russian Olympic Committee – without its anthem or flag – due to previous doping scandals involving the country’s athletes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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