Valieva doping investigation ‘reaching final stages’
Russian anti-doping officials are investigating the case of the figure skating star
The investigation into the doping scandal surrounding figure skating star Kamila Valieva is nearing a conclusion, according to officials at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
Valieva’s positive test for banned heart drug trimetazidine emerged as the biggest scandal at the Beijing Winter Olympics back in February, although the result was based on a sample taken around six weeks previously at the Russian Championships.
RUSADA is investigating the positive sample and the organization’s press service indicated on Monday that the case of the 16-year-old star will soon be resolved.
“At this stage, the investigation of this case is at its final phase. The RUSADA Investigation Department is doing a lot of work to collect information and interview the athlete’s entourage,” read a statement shared by Match TV.
“The case of a Protected Person (in this case, an athlete who was under 16 years of age at the time of the alleged anti-doping rule violation) requires a thorough investigation into Athlete Support Personnel.
“In the coming weeks, the results of the investigation will be transferred to the results processing department of RUSADA.”
RUSADA had been asked to resolve the case by August 8, although World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Witold Banka recently noted that the specifics of Valieva’s situation – not least her young age – may mean it takes longer.
“We expect that they [RUSADA] have to organize soon the hearing,”Banka told Inside the Games at the end of July.
“This is our expectation and I think they will do it soon. If we are not happy, we can always use the possibility to go directly to CAS [the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland].
“Let’s give us a bit of time to assess it. This month, RUSADA has asked for documents and materials so it is not like they stopped activities.
“They are following and as far as I know they plan to organize the hearing quite soon. We will monitor it.”
Valieva, who had already won team gold with Russia in Beijing before the news of her positive test emerged, was allowed to compete in the women’s individual event in the Chinese capital but the pressure of the ordeal took its toll as she slumped to fourth place despite being the hot favorite.
Russian officials and members of Valieva’s team have consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying that she passed doping tests before and after the positive sample which was collected at the Russian Championships on December 26.
Valieva’s representatives told an emergency Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in Beijing that trimetazidine may have entered her system via contamination from medicine her grandfather was taking.
The CAS panel cleared Valieva to continue to compete in Beijing despite the IOC, WADA and International Skating Union (ISU) aligning against her.
Among other aspects of the case, Russian officials have questioned the delay at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, which analyzed Valieva’s probe, and why the result was only announced after the Beijing Games were already underway.
The case has increased scrutiny of Valieva’s coach, the hugely successful Eteri Tutberidze, with IOC president Thomas Bach accusing the trainer of creating a “chilling atmosphere” for the young skater.
However, Valieva and others have defended Tutberidze, whose other skaters Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova earned Olympic gold and silver respectively in the female individual event in Beijing.
The medals for the team event in which Valieva starred for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) have still not been awarded due to the uncertain status of her doping case.
Valieva and her compatriots are currently suspended from international competitions by the ISU because of the conflict in Ukraine.