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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