The Court for Arbitration of Sport on Monday sentenced Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to four years in suspension after discovering that she had “committed an anti-doping rule violation.”
Why it matters: As a result of the CAS backdating the ban to disqualify her from all competitions where she medaled throughout the impacted period, including the Beijing Games, Team USA announced late Monday that the U.S. figure skating team had been granted a gold medal for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The final decision by the CAS ends a protracted legal dispute that started when Valieva, then 15 years old, tested positive for a prohibited chemical a few months before the Beijing Olympics of 2022.
Driving the news: On December 25, 2021, Valieva tested positive for the cardiac medication trimetazidine during the Russian national championships. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency lifted Valieva’s suspension, but several organisations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, filed an appeal.
State of play: Because the CAS retroactively applied its ban to this date, Valieva’s suspension is set to last until 2025, during which time she will not be allowed to compete in any events where she won a medal.
This includes the Olympics in Beijing, when she assisted the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team in winning the gold medal and defeating the United States figure skating team to take second place.
The International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union dealt with the implications of the CAS verdict regarding the 17-year-old Valieva’s disqualification.
In a statement released earlier on Monday, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Travis Tygart urged the organisations to give the Being gold to “the rightful winners of the Team Figure Skating event” so that they can be “recognised as the Olympic champions that they are.”
U.S. Figure Skating welcomed the medal decision in a post to X late on Monday, saying, “We are extremely proud of our 2022 Olympic champions – Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue – for their excellence on and off the ice.”
Calling child doping “unforgivable,” WADA praised the CAS ruling in a statement and stated that “Doctors, coaches, or other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full force of the World Anti-Doping Code.”
The opposing viewpoint: Valieva’s team insists that her positive test resulted from a mistake involving her grandfather’s cardiac medicine.
In a statement released through Russian official media, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to Valieva’s disqualification as “a policitized decision” and stated that the Russian Figure Skating Federation still views the ROC competitors as the Winter Olympics team tournament winners in spite of the CAS ruling.
Flashback: In December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended Russia from four years of participation in international athletic events after discovering that state officials had altered the database of a doping laboratory.
Since then, Valieva and other Russian athletes have participated in Olympic competitions as members of the ROC squad.
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