The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) completed its investigation into figure skater Kamila Valiyeva‘s doping case and in processing the results will hold at least one hearing before an anti-doping disciplinary committee in late September or early October, according to Russian media.
Valiyeva, then 15, was the favorite going into this year’s Olympics and finished fourth after news surfaced of a positive drug test for a banned heart medication from a sample taken on Christmas.
She was allowed to compete after a RUSADA anti-doping disciplinary committee in February lifted her suspension upon appeal by the skater. The committee cited, among other reasons, a “low” amount of the banned substance in Valiyeva’s sample, that she tested negative before and after the Dec. 25 test and that, as an athlete under the age of 16, she had less of a burden of proof.
Anti-doping rules have a provision that athletes under the age of 16 may face lesser punishments for doping violations than those 16 and over, including a reprimand rather than a suspension.
The International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union then appealed RUSADA’s lifting of the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which ruled that Valiyeva could compete in the Olympics while her case was still being adjudicated.
The CAS panel largely based its decision on an “untenable delay” in Valiyeva’s sample test results being processed through a Stockholm lab. “This case was not about the underlying alleged anti-doping rule violation and the panel takes no position on that,” it stated.
The IOC then put an indefinite delay on holding the medal ceremony from the Olympic team event, where Valiyeva helped the Russian Olympic Committee to win. The U.S. was second and Japan third, but nobody will receive medals until after Valiyeva’s case is adjudicated.
“It continues to be an outrageous situation,” U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said Thursday. “Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that our Team USA athletes who are sitting without their medals know that we haven’t forgotten them.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday that it reserves the right to appeal RUSADA’s verdict on Valiyeva to CAS “if it feels the World Anti-Doping Code has not been applied appropriately.”
“The bad news is there can be hearings, and then of course there can be appeals,” Hirshland said. “I fear that this is going to linger for quite some time.”
Also Thursday, USOPC board chair Susanne Lyons said the IOC is reaching out to its stakeholders, including National Olympic Committees and international sports federations “about whether there’s a pathway back” for Russian athletes who have largely been banned from international competition since shortly after the invasion of Ukraine in February.
“I don’t think any decisions have been made yet, but I think all of us feel that at some point in time, the individual athletes should not be the victim of whatever their individual governments’ political or other tensions are around the world,” Lyons said. “So I think, inevitably, there will be a desire to see athletes who happen to reside in Russia come back and be part of competition, but what the timing is and what that pathway looks like is to be determined.”
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