According to Today, the 15-year-old Russian figure skater tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication that increases blood flow and limits swings in blood pressure. The drug test occurred back on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2021, at the Russian national’s competition, but the results were not made public until after the teenage skating prodigy won a gold medal alongside the Russian Olympic Committee in the team skating competition in Beijing.
Denis Oswald, chair of the International Olympic Committee disciplinary commission, told reporters on Tuesday that, “Her argument was this contamination happened with a product her grandfather was taking.”
A prominent figure of the previous 2014 Russian doping scandal at the Sochi Winter Games, Oswald was part of the investigation that eventually banned Russia from competing. However, many athletes have been able to compete under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee, instead of the Russian flag.
“She presented elements which brought some doubts about her guilt, and also she was in a very special situation that the Olympic Games take place every four years, and if she would miss the competition at this Games, the damage could not be repaired,” Oswald stated.
Kamila Valieva, who had yet to respond publicly to the Russian doping scandal until Tuesday morning, was previously allowed to compete as the investigation continued. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Monday that the 15-year-old was likely unaware of the doping since she was a minor but stopped short of placing blame for the banned heart medication’s presence.
Others were angry that Valieva would be allowed to compete, with some athletes, such as track star Sha’Carri Richardson, citing a double standard. The fan-favorite runner was banned from competition within hours of testing positive for marijuana use. Sha’Carri questioned why Valieva’s results were not made public for over a month and why the figure skater was still allowed to compete when she was not given the same opportunity.
The International Olympic Committee also angered competing athletes when they announced that any event Valieva competes in, regardless of if she places on the podium, will not be given a medal ceremony as the investigation remains ongoing. That means, that if Valieva wins silver or bronze and another athlete wins the gold, the winning athlete will not be allowed to celebrate with a medal ceremony.
Landing the first quadruple jump in women’s figure skating, Kamila Valieva was favorited to win the gold medal, which may still be a possibility. The Court of Arbitration for Sport decided in their ruling that it would be best to let her compete while the investigation continues, as to not take away her chance at winning gold. The 15-year-old figure skater already leads in first place after the first day of the competition.
Aside from having to look into other Russian athletes on the figure skating team, comments from Valieva’s lawyers about her grandfather’s medicine only complicate the issue even further. Questions remain regarding why Kamila took the medication, who gave it to her, and if she was aware or not that the substance was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency?
If Valieva is found at fault, her gold medals may also be taken from her, leaving many athletes, such as Nathan Chen and the second-place American skating team, in question about their medal placement. The investigation into the Russian doping scandal will likely continue for months.
“These days have been very difficult for me,” Valieva told Russian reporters on Monday. I’m happy but I’m tired emotionally.”