Doping: Russian skater Kamila Valieva suspended for four years

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, whose positive test for a banned substance splashed the 2022 Beijing Olympics, was sentenced on Monday to a four-year suspension starting December 25, 2021, a decision that leaves several questions unanswered.

• Read also: Doping: Russian skater Kamila Valieva before sports justice

Upon appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) disavowed the disciplinary commission of the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), which had exempted the 17-year-old prodigy from sanctions a year ago, alleging that she had not committed “ “no fault or negligence.”

“All the results of the Valieva competitions on December 25, 2021 are annulled, with all the consequences that arise from this”, that is, the withdrawal of their titles, medals and bonuses, rules the supreme jurisdiction of the world of sport in a press release.

The suspense did not refer to whether the teenager had violated anti-doping legislation: Kamila Valieva had not questioned her positive at the end of 2021 for trimetazidine, a substance that supposedly improves blood circulation, banned since 2014 by the World Anti-Doping Agency. , and detected in small quantities in her body.

“Unforgivable” child doping

But the young woman, who was 15 years old at the time, had reported “contamination from the cutlery” that she shared with her grandfather, treated with trimetazidine after the installation of an artificial heart, and who took her to train every day.

The CAS, at the end of a closed-door hearing that began last September and resumed in November, however, considered that Kamila Valieva “had not been able to demonstrate”, with sufficiently convincing evidence, that she had not “intentionally” doped.

The three-arbitrator panel also noted that if the skater did not prove her absence of guilt, Russian anti-doping legislation offered “no basis for treating her differently from an adult athlete”, even if she was only fifteen years old at the time of the trial. facts: hence the maximum sanction of four years, the only one possible according to the texts.

The Kremlin denounced a “political decision” through Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies.

“Child doping is unforgivable,” insisted the World Anti-Doping Agency, which welcomed the CAS decision but also called on governments to adopt laws criminalizing child doping.

In fact, Valieva’s age had been an important component of the scandal: “protected person” according to the World Anti-Doping Code (under 16 years of age), she should have benefited from a confidential procedure, but her exceptional sporting level and the world theater of the Los Olympic Games had placed her in the spotlight.

The international skating federation then raised the entry threshold in the senior category from 15 to 17 years old from 2024/25, citing the “physical, mental and emotional health of athletes”, although the question remains unanswered for other disciplines. like Gymnastics and its teenage stars.

And the team gold?

The Valieva case, however, is not over: the skater can first appeal to the Swiss Federal Court within 30 days, only on limited legal grounds, before the CAS decision becomes final.

Above all, the sports court did not decide “the consequences linked to the retroactive disqualification of Valieva during past competitions, including the Beijing Olympics”, since this issue “did not fall within the scope of the procedure”, clarified the CAS.

However, Kamila Valieva had time to win team gold with the Russians in Beijing, achieving the first women’s quadruple jump in Olympic history, before her positive result was revealed: the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the team’s work. WADA approved laboratory in Stockholm. , in charge of analyzing his sample taken at the end of 2021 in Moscow.

Almost two years later, the International Olympic Committee has still not organized a medal ceremony for this event, much to the dismay of the American, Japanese and Canadian skaters who were defeated by the Russians.

However, the IOC, which must now draw the consequences of the CAS decision, finds itself in a delicate situation: unlike other disciplines such as athletics, the regulations of the international skating federation only provide for collective disqualification in the event of positive anti-doping control of one of the athletes during the competition, not eight weeks before.

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