Kamila Valieva’s 4-year ban alters Olympic podium after CAS doping decision

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva faces a four-year ban from competition after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The decision comes after a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) investigation initially cleared the 17-year-old skater of any wrongdoing related to a doping test before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The CAS ruling dictates that all competitive results of Valieva from December 25, 2021, onwards are disqualified, including her historic performance in Beijing where she became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.

The reshuffling of the podium now positions the United States to claim gold, Japan to secure silver, and Canada to take home bronze.

The controversy surrounding Valieva’s positive test for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but banned for athletes, raises questions about her treatment as a minor, the testing procedures, and the substance’s impact on performance enhancement. Valieva attributed the presence of the drug to “contamination by cutlery” shared with her grandfather, who used trimetazidine after receiving an artificial heart.

WADA seized the moment to stressed the gravity of doping in young athletes, stating, “The doping of children is unforgivable,” and urged governments to consider legislation making the doping of minors a criminal offense.

While the United States welcomed the CAS decision as a victory for clean athletes, the Kremlin labeled it a “politicised” move, highlighting that it reflects a broader attack on Russian sports.

The saga has taken an emotional toll on Valieva, who, under suspicion and attention, stumbled in the individual event in Beijing, dropping from first to fourth and finishing in tears. The United States Anti-Doping Agency criticised the lengthy resolution process, stating that true justice had been “denied” by the two-year delay.

The doping scandal has prompted the International Skating Union (ISU) to raise the age limit for its senior category, citing concerns for the “physical, mental, and emotional health” of competitors.