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Mystery surrounds Russian Olympic skater doping case

February 10, 2022

Questions abound in the first big doping case of the Beijing Winter Olympics — that of Russian figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva. Games officials have said it is a legal issue but declined to comment further.

Valieva competes during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium
Valieva competing during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor StadiumImage: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Kamila Valieva, the teenage Russian superstar in women's figure skating to her country, practiced as usual Thursday, hours after reports that she tested positive for a banned substance.

Valieva, who is reported to have tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Beijing Winter Olympics, is expected to deliver a third straight Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating to her country.

What are the allegations?

Russian media reported on Wednesday that the 15-year-old figure skater had tested positive for a banned drug.

The report came after the ceremony to present her and her teammates with their Olympic gold medals was postponed for unexplained legal reasons.

Russia's RBC newspaper said the sample in question was obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month.

The drug detected is trimetazidine, normally prescribed for the treatment of angina and vertigo, according to Kommersant newspaper.

The substance is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it can increase the efficiency of blood flow and boost endurance.

When pressed by DW's Jonathan Crane in Beijing on the veracity of the reports, the Russian Olympic Committee declined to comment. 

What has the IOC said about the case?

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams on Thursday said a situation had arisen that had legal implications but that he was not prepared to comment. "I'm not, from the podium of a press conference, going to comment on a legal case because it wouldn't be appropriate," Adams said.

More broadly, he said the IOC had delegated testing management and sanctions to the International Testing Agency and Court of Arbitration for Sport to avoid any appearance of potential conflict of interests.

Because of a massive state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russian athletes are competing under the name of the Russian Olympic Committee.

rc/rt (Reuters, AP)