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Day 10 recap: Russian teen Kamila Valieva allowed to skate again at Beijing Olympics


Russian teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva can compete again at the Beijing Olympics after sport’s top court said on Monday she should not be suspended for failing a drugs test.

In a case that has rocked the Games, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled the 15-year-old could take part in the women’s singles event that begins on Tuesday.

The young Russian will be favourite to win but she has not been cleared of doping and could still face punishment at a later date.

The International Olympic Committee said if Valieva finishes in the top three, it will not hold a medal ceremony until the doping issue is resolved.

CAS said it had rejected appeals by the IOC, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Skating Union to have Valieva’s suspension reinstated after it was lifted by Russian anti-doping authorities.

The court cited “exceptional circumstances,” including Valieva’s age.

Flavie Aumond of Canada attempts to qualify for the women's aerials final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS
Flavie Aumond of Canada attempts to qualify for the women’s aerials final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS

Matthieu Reeb, director general of CAS, said preventing Valieva from competing would have caused her “irreparable harm.”

CAS also emphasized that “there were serious issues of untimely notification” of the test result.

Valieva gave a sample on Dec. 25 but the result was only produced last week, after she led Russia to team gold.

“Such late notification was not her fault, in the middle of the Olympic Winter Games,” the ruling said.

The Russian Olympic Committee hailed the decision, saying, “Tomorrow the whole country will support her.”

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee though said it was “disappointed by the message this decision sends.”

“This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” it said.

Valieva practiced on Monday evening but did not speak to reporters afterward.

Xu Mengtao of China celebrates after winning gold in the women's aerials competition at the Beijing Games on Monday. | REUTERS
Xu Mengtao of China celebrates after winning gold in the women’s aerials competition at the Beijing Games on Monday. | REUTERS

Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, which is used to treat angina but is banned because it can increase blood flow efficiency and help endurance.

It took six weeks for the result of the test to be processed by a WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm.

The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was notified of the positive result on Feb. 8 and suspended Valieva, but she appealed and the suspension was lifted.

RUSADA has said it was informed the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases at the start of the year was the reason for the delay.

“We would not have this case and I would not be here if these anti-doping test procedures would have been completed in one week or 10 days,” Reeb said.

The day before she received the result, Valieva helped Russia win the figure skating team title with a dazzling performance as she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.

The IOC said it had no choice but to allow Valieva to compete but it will not hold a ceremony during the Games if the Russian is among the medals — and the award ceremony for the team event will not take place for the same reason.

Lucile Lefevre of France attempts to qualify for the women's snowboard Big Air final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS
Lucile Lefevre of France attempts to qualify for the women’s snowboard Big Air final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS

Earlier, referring to the team event medals, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “It’s a dilemma we are all in and it’s something we’re not happy with.”

The United States won the silver medal in the team event and Japan took the bronze, with Canada fourth.

WADA, meanwhile, said it was investigating Valieva’s entourage, which includes highly successful coach Eteri Tutberidze.

CAS’s decision will be intensely scrutinized because Russia is already under sanctions for a massive state-sponsored doping program that reached its peak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

As a result, Russians are competing in Beijing only under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee.

In Monday’s sports action, Californian-born Eileen Gu, the face of the Games after winning freestyle skiing gold for China last week, held her nerve to qualify for the slopestyle final.

The 18-year-old was down in 11th place after a mediocre first run, and with only the top 12 going through to Tuesday’s final, the pressure was on.

Gu duly delivered to finish in third place.

Tiarn Collins of New Zealand attempts to qualify for the men's snowboard Big Air final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS
Tiarn Collins of New Zealand attempts to qualify for the men’s snowboard Big Air final at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. | REUTERS

French figure skaters Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won Olympic gold in ice dancing, breaking their own world record again in the process.

Papadakis, who suffered a problem with her costume that cost the pair the gold medal four years ago, said: “I think we don’t believe it yet. Honestly it feels completely unreal. We have been waiting for this.”

Canadian-born Kaillie Humphries won the inaugural monobob event — and dedicated it to her adopted USA after switching allegiance amid claims she was mentally and verbally abused.

“This will always hold a special place in my heart, my first for the USA,” said Humphries, the first woman to win Olympic bobsleigh medals for two nations.

Austria claimed the men’s ski jumping team title, coming from behind to edge out Slovenia.

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