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Doping: the CAS will make its decision for skater Kamila Valieva, tested positive at the Tokyo Olympics

The CAS indicated at the end of the final pleadings in November 2023 that it would deliver its opinion “by the end of January 2024”.

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Doping: the CAS will make its decision for skater Kamila Valieva, tested positive at the Tokyo Olympics

The CAS indicated at the end of the final pleadings in November 2023 that it would deliver its opinion “by the end of January 2024”. Valieva was only 15 years old when she tested positive in December 2021 after her victory in the Russian championships.

A tiny concentration of trimetazidine, banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since 2014 because it was suspected of promoting blood circulation, was found in the young skater born in Kazan on April 26, 2006. However, the case was not revealed until 'in February 2022 during the Beijing Olympics, the day after Russia's victory in the team event, during which Valieva became the first skater to land a quadruple jump in the history of the Games.

The case was brought before the CAS following the exoneration of Valieva by the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), which considered that the skater had committed “no fault or negligence”. WADA and the International Skating Federation (ISU) for their part called for up to four years of suspension and the annulment of all of Valieva's results since the end of 2021.

After a first hearing in September 2023, the three CAS judges met again behind closed doors on November 9 to hear the young skater by videoconference as well as experts and witnesses. From the start, the case posed a legal dilemma. The skater's age at the time of the test should have guaranteed her confidentiality, in accordance with WADA rules. But his high-flying performance during the Beijing Olympics gave the affair a strong impact.

“Confidentiality is a good thing but it becomes a bit artificial when it comes to high-level athletes,” said David Pavot, director of the anti-doping research chair at the Canadian University of Sherbrooke, interviewed by the AFP in 2023. The Valieva affair “raises broader ethical questions about the minimum age for participation in the Games”.

The international federation decided that from 2024, the minimum age limit for participation in the Games would increase from 15 to 17, citing the "physical, mental and emotional health" of athletes. For David Pavot, Kamila Valieva was caught “in a spiral that exceeds her”, against a backdrop of revelations of cheating and discredit of Russian sport targeting the RUSADA agency.

In the days following the revelation of the affair, Valieva had broken down during the individual event in Beijing. First at the end of the short program, she tripped four times in the long program and finished in tears, finally failing at the foot of the podium. In her defense, the young skater invoked “contamination by cutlery” shared with her grandfather, treated with trimetazidine after receiving an artificial heart, and who took her to training every day.

In 2018, the CAS retained two cases of accidental contamination with trimetazidine: the American swimmer Madisyn Cox, who had consumed the drug in a multivitamin solution, and the Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva. Doubt surrounds the use of trimetazidine as a medication due in particular to its numerous side effects, ranging from gait disturbances to hallucinations.

After being cleared by RUSADA, Valieva returned to competition, taking second place at the Russian championships in late 2022, and placing third the following year. Last November, she won the Russian Grand Prix.

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