Teenage Russian figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva will find out whether she can skate for Olympic gold on Monday.
Valieva, 15, tested positive for Trimetazidine, a medication for angina on the sport’s doping banned list since 2014, at December’s national championships but was cleared to compete by Russia’s anti-doping agency last week.
A panel of three arbitrators, Italy’s Fabio Iudica, USA’s Jeffery Benz and Slovenia’s Dr Vesna Bergant, will hear evidence by video on Sunday evening Beijing time.
They will then inform the parties of their decision on Monday afternoon, approximately 24 hours before the start of the women’s competition on Tuesday, where Valieva – who can continue to train and practice – is hot favourite to win gold.
“A very controversial and difficult situation has arisen, there are lots of questions and very few answers,” said Valieva’s controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze, in her first comments since the story broke.
“I want to say that I am absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and clean. And for us, this is not a theorem, but an axiom – this does not need to be proved.
“I understand that there is some protocol of actions that cannot be dispensed with. We have not abandoned the athlete in any case. We are with our athletes and in trouble and in joy, to the end.”
One of Russia’s arguments will be the 45 days it took between the sample being collected on December 25th and the report of the adverse finding on February 8th. Russian Olympic Committee chief Stanislav Pozdnyakov claimed this raised ‘serious questions about the process’.
It is thought a Covid outbreak at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm was a reason for the slow processing, though their own guidelines mandate adverse results need to be reported ‘within 20 days’.
“Unfortunately I will not be making any comment on this case,” said lab director Anton Pohanka.
Figure skating is a source of massive national pride for the Russia and Valieva is their superstar in waiting. She won the European title with a world record score and landed the first ever quad at the Olympics when helping Russia to the team title, a medal which is now in jeopardy, though a ruling on that is not expected until after the Games.
Some experts believe Valieva’s team may be able to argue any sanction down to a warning because she is a minor, especially if her team concede wrongdoing during the hearing.
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