The key questions about figure skater Kamila Valieva after failed drug test


Fifteen-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva is facing an uncertain future at the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for a banned heart medication.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the issues and potential repercussions surrounding her ongoing case.

Who is Kamila Valieva?

Beijing Olympics Doping Russia
Kamila Valieva continued training despite news of a positive doping test (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Valieva is the latest Russian figure skating superstar. She is the overall world record holder, and on Monday she became the first female skater to land quad jumps at an Olympics, as she inspired the team from the Russian Olympic Committee to a gold medal in the mixed team event. She is the overwhelming favorite to win the ladies’ singles title later next week.

What are the circumstances of her positive test?

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games – Day Two
Kamila Valieva starred as the Russian Olympic Committee won the mixed team event last week (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The International Testing Agency announced on Friday that she tested positive for a banned heart medication following a test at the Russian Championships on Christmas Day. It said the result was confirmed on Tuesday, the day after the team event. Valieva’s team immediately won an appeal to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) against her provisional suspension of her. She continues to practice in Beijing whilst the ITA, on behalf of the International Olympic Committee, appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the presumed intention of barring her from the remainder of the Games.

What has she tested positive for?

Beijing Olympics Doping Russia
Kamila Valieva is waiting to hear whether she will be allowed to compete next week (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Trimetazidine is a heart medication commonly used to treat angina. It has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list since 2014. It helps to maintain blood flow and relax blood vessels, ostensibly to help a person breathe more easily. Chinese swimmer Sun Yang was given a three-month ban for using it in 2014, and Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has also been sanctioned after traces were found in her system.

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Why the confusion?

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games – Day Two
Kamila Valieva tested positive on Christmas Day (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Under WADA rules, Valieva is considered a ‘protected person’, meaning the usual rule of strict liability does not necessarily apply, and generally implying the athlete concerned must remain anonymous. The ITA plainly stated it had made an exception in Valieva’s case because of the unprecedented media interest and speculation. It is unclear whether the initial caution in announcing the contested sanction is just because of Valieva’s age de ella, or whether RUSADA’s “reasoned decision” for lifting her provisional suspension – the details of which have not yet been made public – is a complex one.

What’s next?

Beijing Olympics Doping Russia
The International Olympic Committee is appealing against RUSADA’s decision to lift Kamila Valieva’s provisional suspension (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Valieva continues to practice, pending the ITA-led case to CAS. If CAS finds in the ITA’s favour, the Russian Olympic Committee will presumably launch an immediate appeal, and the case could end up in the Swiss federal court. Whether or not Valieva can compete next week will largely depend upon which side she is in the ascendency in that process at the time of the start of the ladies’ short program on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the medals for the team competition have not yet been given out.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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