Kamila Valiyeva could be banned through 2026 Winter Olympics

Kamila Valieva
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The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) seeks a four-year doping ban for Russian figure skater Kamila Valiyeva in a court case, which could rule her out of the next Winter Olympics in 2026.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is handling the Valiyeva case, said Monday that WADA wants Valiyeva banned for four years starting on the date that the court’s decision goes into effect, plus disqualifying all of her results dating to last Christmas, the date of her positive drug test for a banned heart medication.

Last week, WADA President Witold Banka tweeted that WADA took the Valiyeva case to CAS after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) did not meet a WADA-imposed Nov. 4 deadline to deliver a verdict on Valiyeva’s case.

The CAS verdict is usually final and binding with the exception of the right to appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on very limited procedural grounds.

The CAS process, which has started, includes appointing a three-member panel of arbitrators and scheduling a hearing. Doping cases that go to CAS can take months or years before a resolution.

Valiyeva, then 15, was the favorite going into February’s Olympics. After helping a team of Russian skaters win the team event, news surfaced of the positive test. The medal ceremony for the team event was postponed indefinitely. The medals still have not been awarded and will not be until Valiyeva’s case is adjudicated. The U.S. originally placed second and could be upgraded to gold if Valiyeva’s Olympic results are disqualified.

After the positive test surfaced, Valiyeva was allowed to compete in the individual event after a RUSADA anti-doping disciplinary committee 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, WADA and the International Skating Union then appealed RUSADA’s lifting of the suspension to CAS, which ruled that Valiyeva could compete in the Olympics while her case was still being adjudicated.

Valiyeva topped the Olympic short program, then struggled in the free skate and finished fourth overall.

The CAS panel largely based its February decision on an “untenable delay” in Valiyeva’s sample test results being processed through a Stockholm lab, which led to a short time frame to rule on her Olympic eligibility during the Games. “This case was not about the underlying alleged anti-doping rule violation and the panel takes no position on that,” it stated in February.

All Russian figure skaters have been banned from international competition since February due to the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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