Figure skater Kamila Valieva was disqualified from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for sports doping on Monday, almost two years after her story sowed controversy in China.
The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) means Russia will lose its gold medal in the team event. This will instead be granted to the United States, while Japan will be promoted to the second step of the podium. Canada, initially excluded from the podium in Beijing, will ultimately receive the bronze medal.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided not to award medals in the team event in Beijing, where Valieva, then 15, was one of the star skaters hours before she tested positive. to a screening test for trimetazidine, a heart medication banned in sport.
CAS said it upheld the challenge from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which had asked the court to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics and suspend her. A Russian sports court, however, cleared her of all charges.
The CAS suspended it for four years, until December 2025. The next Winter Olympic Games will take place from February 6 to 22, 2026 in Milan / Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
“Skate Canada applauds the decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s doping violation at the 2022 Winter Olympics. This decision highlights the importance of robust anti-doping measures and the need of continued vigilance, in order to protect the integrity of figure skating and all sports,” we could read in a press release published on the Skate Canada website.
“Skate Canada advocates for impartial and fair rules for drug-free sport for all athletes and supports the efforts of international organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to maintain integrity of our sport,” we added.
A message left with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has still not been returned.
The IOC is responsible for the redistribution of medals and its executive committee is due to meet in March.
Valieva’s legal team has indicated that it will analyze the CAS decision before determining whether it will challenge it before the Swiss Federal Court – the equivalent of the Supreme Court in Canada -, mentioned lawyer Andrea Pinna by way of communicated. Pinna, who is based in Paris, led the Russian skater’s defense during appeal proceedings in September and November.
Appeals to the Swiss Federal Court can be brought for specific procedural reasons, and not on the merits of the case.
Kalieva’s lawyers alleged that her body was contaminated with traces of trimetazidine, a drug her grandfather uses.
“After a careful analysis of all the evidence presented,” read the judgment, “the CAS committee concluded that Ms. Valieva could not clearly establish, based on the calculation of probabilities and the evidence that was presented to the committee, that she had not intentionally wanted to violate the anti-doping policy. »
Judges determined that under Russian anti-doping rules, Valieva could not evade sanctions because she was a minor at the time of the positive drug test.
There is “nothing in the regulations which distinguishes an adult athlete from another of minor age”, it was specified in the court document, which has still not published a detailed verdict since confidentiality elements still need to be resolved.
The case caused chaos at the Olympics because Valieva’s sample, which had been taken six weeks earlier at the Russian figure skating championships, was not reported by a Swedish laboratory before the team event took place. on February 7, 2022 — notably due to a staffing problem at the laboratory which was attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valieva continued her activities at the Olympics despite the verdict, after a Russian court and a separate CAS committee spared her because she was a minor at the time of the events.
These distractions caused numerous errors in the individual programs of Valieva, who was nevertheless the favorite to win. She eventually took fourth place.
The saga continued off the ice. The reaction of its coach, Eteri Tutberidze, was strongly criticized by experts in the discipline and the president of the IOC, Thomas Bach.
Bach had declared in Beijing the day after the incident that he had been “very, very disturbed” to see the “extreme harshness” of Valieva’s entourage.
The case was transferred to CAS to challenge a Russian anti-doping court ruling issued towards the end of 2022, which found Valieva to be innocent. This verdict suggested that she would be disqualified from the national championships, but that she would retain her Olympic results and her gold medal in the team event.
WADA had asked the CAS to impose a four-year suspension on Kalieva and her disqualification from the Olympics. The International Skating Union instead recommended a two-year suspension and disqualification.
Valieva, who turns 18 in April, has not skated in an international event since the Beijing Games.
with The Canadian Press