Kamila Valieva doping ban: ISU strips Russia of gold

Figure Skating prodigy Kamila Valieva’s positive test for trimetazidine in December 2021 led to a four-year ban

Russia’s Kamila Valieva attends a training session on February 14, 2022 prior the figure skating event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. — AFP  

The glittering achievement of Russia in the team figure skating event at the 2022 Winter Olympics has been cast into doubt as the International Skating Union (ISU) announced the country’s demotion from gold to bronze. 

The surprising turn of events is a direct consequence of the doping ban handed to the then 15-year-old skating prodigy, Kamila Valieva.

Kamila Valieva’s positive test for trimetazidine in December 2021 led to a four-year ban, officially confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday. This has prompted the ISU to conduct a “re-ranking of the Team event” from the Beijing Games, resulting in the USA claiming the gold medal and Japan securing silver.

Unlike other sports, ISU regulations only permit collective disqualification in the event of a positive doping control during the competition, not eight weeks prior, as was the case with Kamila Valieva. The decision leaves Canada, originally finishing fourth, with a sense of disappointment as they missed out on the expected promotion to bronze.

The Figure Skating Federation of Russia expressed its categorical disagreement with the CAS decision in a strongly-worded statement. Valieva, in her defence, attributed her positive test to “contamination by cutlery” shared with her grandfather, who had been treated with trimetazidine.

The drug, usually prescribed for angina, has raised eyebrows in the sporting community due to its “numerous side effects,” from “gait disorders” to “hallucinations.”

Kamila Valieva’s ban also raises broader questions about age-related confidentiality rules. Despite being under 16, her case has spurred the ISU to raise the lower age limit for its senior category from 15 to 17, citing concerns for the “physical, mental, and emotional health” of competitors.

The repercussions extend beyond medal standings, affecting the very fabric of age regulations within figure skating. The US skating team, now elevated to gold, envisions a unique scenario for the medal ceremony at the 2024 Paris Olympics, surrounded by the true Olympic spirit.

“We’ve thought about it,” expressed Madison Chock, one of the nine Americans crowned as the 2022 Olympic team champions. “That would be the dream scenario.”

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