Russian skater Valieva failed drug test taken before golden Games debut

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee in action. File photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina

Beijing: Figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva won a gold medal having earlier failed a drug test and Olympic officials will fight Russia's decision to let her compete at the Winter Games, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said on Friday.

The 15-year-old's gold medal and Games future now hangs in the balance as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attempts to draw a line in the sand over Russian doping.

Russian athletes are competing at the Beijing Games without their flag and national anthem, because of sanctions against Russia for previous violations.

Russia has acknowledged some shortcomings in its implementation of anti-doping rules but denies running a state-sponsored doping programme.

Valieva delivered one of the highlights of the Beijing Games so far when she landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman in Olympic competition.

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva reacts after her performance. File photo: Reuters/Phil Noble

Her Olympic dream, however, turned into a nightmare on Friday when the ITA revealed publicly that she had tested positive for a banned angina drug in a urine sample collected by Russian authorities at the national championships in St Petersburg on December 25.

The testing lab in Stockholm, Sweden reported on Tuesday that her sample was positive, the day after she had wowed the world with her unique quadruple jumps and won the gold medal for her team, who are competing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

It was not immediately clear why there was such a delay between her test and the results, which allowed her to travel to Beijing and take part in the first of her two events.

The IOC said the handling of this case was initially with the Russian testing authorities and then with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited lab.

WADA declined to comment on Friday. The Russian drug testing authority did not immediately respond to Reuters inquiries.

The Russian anti-doping agency imposed a provisional suspension on Valieva after Tuesday's result. She appealed a day later and her ban was lifted. The Russians did not disclose publicly the reason for lifting the ban.

Now, the IOC will ask the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the Russian decision to allow her to compete.

"We have a 100 percent policy against doping," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a press conference on Friday.

Adams said the IOC had demanded that a decision be made before Valieva is due to compete again on Tuesday in the women's singles.

For days, a doping cloud has hung over the Russian teenager and the Olympics. The medal ceremony for the team event was delayed for days and Russian media first reported that Valieva had tested positive.

Valieva, who had already practised at the rink adjacent to the Capital Indoor Stadium on Thursday, took to the ice again for practice on Friday.

"We need to expedite this as quickly as possible for all those concerned," Adam said.

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