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Kamila Valieva violated doping rules but ‘bore no fault,’ Russia says

Russian officials say skater Kamila Valieva was not at fault for her positive test for a banned substance at the Beijing Olympics. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
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The World Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday that a Russian anti-doping disciplinary tribunal determined star figure skater Kamila Valieva’s positive test for a banned substance in the weeks before last year’s Beijing Olympics constituted a doping violation.

But the Russian Anti-Doping Agency told WADA that Valieva “bore no fault or negligence” for having the banned substance in her body and did not void her results in the Beijing Games, where she helped the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee to a gold medal in the team figure skating event.

Instead, RUSADA said it was disqualifying only Valieva’s results at the Russian national championships, which were held Dec. 25, 2021, the day she provided her sample to testing authorities.

WADA, which has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) asking for a four-year suspension for Valieva dating from Dec. 25, 2021, said it has not yet seen a copy of the Russian disciplinary tribunal’s ruling.

“However, based on the elements of the case with which WADA is already familiar, [WADA] is concerned by the finding of ‘no fault or negligence’ and will not hesitate to exercise its right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, as appropriate,” WADA said in its Friday announcement.

With doping ban set to end, Russia finds itself even more of an outcast

WADA filed its appeal to CAS in November after RUSADA missed deadlines to announce the results of its investigation into Valieva’s positive test. The WADA appeal assumed RUSADA had not violated doping rules when she tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, a heart medication usually given to older patients that also can aid athletic performance.

WADA did not say how RUSADA’s latest decision will impact its appeal to CAS.

The 11-month saga surrounding Valieva’s positive test has drawn anger around the sports world, especially in figure skating, in which the International Olympic Committee has held up awarding medals in the team event. The United States finished second in the Olympic team event, followed by Japan. If Valieva, 16, is ultimately disqualified from the Olympics, the United States will get the gold medal, Japan the silver and Canada the bronze. But with the CAS appeal lingering, it could be several months before the medals are awarded.

The results of Valieva’s test did not become known until Feb. 7, 2022, the final day of the team event in Beijing. RUSADA provisionally suspended Valieva on Feb. 8 but lifted the suspension the next day after Valieva and Russian Olympic officials raised questions about the testing lab’s delay in reporting the results, a holdup IOC officials said was because of coronavirus-related staffing shortages at the lab.

On Feb. 11, the International Testing Agency and IOC asked CAS to reinstate Valieva’s provisional suspension. CAS eventually permitted Valieva to compete in the women’s individual program in Beijing, where she finished fourth after entering as a heavy favorite.