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Russian Olympic skater to learn doping fate

BEIJING (AFP) – Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian figure skater will learn tomorrow on whether she can remain at the Beijing Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said, as questions grew over why it took six weeks for her failed drug test to come to light.

The doping scandal surrounding the prodigious teenager threatens to tarnish the Games after the build-up was overshadowed by concerns about Covid.

Valieva’s Beijing Olympic fate is now in the hands of CAS, which said that it would hold a video hearing today. “Following the hearing, the panel will deliberate and prepare the Arbitral Award containing its decision,” the top sports tribunal said in a statement yesterday.

“It is anticipated that the decision will be notified to the parties in the afternoon of Monday, 14 February.”

That is just one day before Valieva is scheduled to compete in the women’s figure skating singles competition.

Valieva, who played a starring role in helping Russia win team gold in Beijing on Monday, tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine after competing at an event in Saint Petersburg on December 25.

Russia’s Kamila Valieva and her coach Eteri Tutberidze attend a training session. PHOTO: AFP

However, the International Testing Agency said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory in Stockholm only reported that Valieva had returned a positive case on February 8 – the day after she won team gold in Beijing.

In an interview with AFP, United States Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart questioned the delay.

“The failure to report a test taken in December until after the team event in the Games is a catastrophic failure of the system to protect the public, the integrity of the Games and clean athletes who had to compete,” Tygart said.

Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA said it had been informed that a sharp rise of Covid-19 infections at the start of the year was to blame for the delay.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said he had also heard that the pandemic may have been the reason, but could not give confirmation because the testing in this case was the responsibility of WADA.

“I had understood – but I would like to get this confirmed – that there was some issues around Covid, but I don’t know about the exact delivery of the testing and the delivery of the sample,” he said yesterday, as the doping scandal simmered.

The President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation Alexander Gorchkov said, “I repeat once again that we have no doubts about the honesty of our athlete. This affair should be carefully thought through because this crazy story raises so many questions.”

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