(Lausanne) Russian skater Kamila Valieva, whose positive test for a banned substance had splashed the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, was sentenced Monday to four years of suspension from December 25, 2021, a decision which leaves several questions unanswered. .
Seized on appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) disavowed the disciplinary commission of the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), which had exempted the young 17-year-old prodigy from sanction a year ago, on the grounds that she had committed “no fault or negligence”.
« All the competition results of Mme Valieva from December 25, 2021 are canceled, with all the consequences that result from this”, i.e. the withdrawal of her titles, medals and bonuses, rules the supreme court of the sporting world in a press release.
The suspense did not relate to the fact of knowing whether the teenager had violated anti-doping legislation: Kamila Valieva had not contested her positive test at the end of 2021 for trimetazidine, a substance supposed to improve blood circulation, banned since 2014 by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and detected in trace amounts in his body.
“Unforgivable” child doping
But the young girl, then aged 15, had cited “contamination via the cutlery” shared with her grandfather, treated with trimetazidine after the installation of an artificial heart, and who took her to training every day. .
The CAS, at the end of a closed hearing initiated last September and resumed in November, nevertheless considered that Kamila Valieva “had not been able to establish”, with sufficiently convincing evidence, that she did not had not “intentionally” doped.
The panel of three arbitrators also noted that if the skater did not prove her absence of fault, Russian anti-doping legislation offered “no basis for treating her differently from an adult athlete”, even if she was only fifteen years at the time of the events: hence the maximum sanction of four years, the only possible one according to the texts.
The Kremlin denounced a “political decision” through Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies.
“Doping by children is unforgivable,” insisted the World Anti-Doping Agency, which welcomed the CAS decision but also called on governments to adopt legislation penalizing doping by minors.
Valieva’s age had in fact been an important component of the scandal: “protected person” according to the World Anti-Doping Code (under 16), she should have benefited from a confidential procedure, but her exceptional sporting level and the global theater of the Olympics had placed her at the center of attention.
The international skating federation then raised the threshold for entry into the senior category from 15 to 17 years old from 2024-2025, citing the “physical, mental and emotional health” of athletes, even if the question remains unanswered for d other disciplines such as gymnastics and its teenage stars.
And team gold?
The Valieva case is not over, however: the skater can first appeal to the Swiss Federal Court within 30 days, only for limited legal reasons, before the CAS decision becomes final.
Above all, the sporting jurisdiction did not decide “the consequences linked to the retroactive disqualification of Mme Valieva during past competitions, including the Beijing Olympics”, since this question “did not fall within the scope of the procedure”, clarified the CAS.
However, Kamila Valieva had time to win team gold with the Russians in Beijing, achieving the first women’s quadruple jump in Olympic history, before her positive test was revealed – the COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the work of the laboratory approved by WADA in Stockholm, responsible for analyzing its sample taken at the end of 2021 in Moscow.
Nearly two years later, the International Olympic Committee has still not organized a medal ceremony for this event, to the great dismay of the American, Japanese and Canadian skaters who were beaten by the Russians.
However, the IOC, which must now draw the consequences of the CAS decision, is in a delicate situation: unlike other disciplines such as athletics, the regulations of the international skating federation only provide for collective disqualification in case of positive doping control of one of the athletes during the competition – not eight weeks before.
Skate Canada reacts
“Skate Canada applauds the decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the doping offense of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva at the 2022 Winter Olympics. This decision highlights the importance of rigorous anti-doping measures and the need for continued vigilance, in order to protect the integrity of figure skating and all sports,” we could read in a press release published on the Skate Canada website.
“Skate Canada advocates for impartial and fair rules for drug-free sport for all athletes and supports the efforts of international organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to maintain integrity of our sport,” we added.
A message left with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has still not been returned.
With The Canadian Press