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Russian Skater Valieva Banned for 4 Yrs, Beijing 2022 Team Event Re-ranking Challenged

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been banned for four years for committing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV), as confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The athlete’s sample collected at the Russian National Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg on December 25, 2021, tested positive for the prohibited substance Trimetazidine (TMZ). During this time, Valieva was 15 years old. Consequently, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) provisionally suspended her in February 2022. In the same month, the Russian Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee (DADC) decided that the athlete could’ve consumed a contaminated product, and hence, no consequence should be imposed on her.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the International Skating Union (ISU) challenged the decision before the CAS Ad Hoc Division, which dismissed the appeals. After an in-person hearing, the DADC applied the reasonable possibility standard based on the contention that the use of the prohibited substance was not intentional. It ruled, in January of last year, that there was no fault on the part of the athlete, and no period of ineligibility was imposed.

Appeals against the January 2023 decision of the DADC were filed before CAS in the following month. The athlete maintained that the strawberry dessert she consumed was contaminated as her grandfather had prepared it by using the same chopping board on which he crushed his pills. However, the CAS Panel noted that the athlete failed to discharge her burden and establish that the presence of the prohibited substance in her sample was due to the consumption of the strawberry dessert her grandfather had prepared. Setting aside the DADC decision dated January 24, 2023, the CAS Panel held that the figure skater committed an ADRV under Clause 4.1 of the All-Russian Anti-Doping Rules, imposing a four-year ban. The said ban will begin on December 25, 2021. As per reports, the CAS Panel’s decision has been challenged before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

The disqualification led the ISU to re-rank the figure skating teams for their performance in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, wherein Valieva and her Russian teammates had initially won gold. As per the re-ranking, the US, Japan and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) assumed the top three positions, while Canada remained in the fourth position. In response to this, four appeals have been filed before CAS, with Canada seeking the Bronze medal and ROC aiming to reclaim the top spot.