- Russian skater Kamila Valieva, 15, tested positive for a banned substance, the ITA said.
- Valieva was the first woman skater to land quadruple jumps at the Olympics.
- It’s not clear if Valieva, who was favored to win gold, will be allowed to compete.
The 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva, who made history this week as the first woman skater to land quadruple jumps at the Olympics, tested positive for a banned substance less than two months before the Games, the International Testing Authority said in a statement on Thursday night.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency has cleared Valieva for Olympic competition despite testing positive for a banned substance, trimetazidine, but the International Olympic Committee appealed the decision, the statement said.
“The WADA-accredited laboratory of Stockholm, Sweden, reported that the sample had returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the non-specified prohibited substance trimetazidine (classified as S4. Hormone and Metabolic Modulators according to the Prohibited List of the World Anti-Doping Code) on 8 February 2022,” according to the ITA statement.
As Insider previously reported, trimetazidine is a heart medication that is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, as it “sends more blood and oxygen to the muscles and can improve athletes’ endurance.”
The website on which the statement was issued crashed within 30 minutes of being posted.
The ITA said it was identifying Valieva by name despite her status as a minor and “protected person” because widespread news reports with her name had already circulated.
Because there are no World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited labs in Russia, the sample, which was taken on December 25, 2021, was tested in Stockholm, Sweden. The adverse result was turned over to the ITA on Tuesday, February 8, the day that the team medal ceremony was scheduled.
By that point, Valieva had already twice taken Olympic ice in Beijing, and her high-scoring performances had helped propel Russia to gold in the team event.
Because the sample in question was gathered at a domestic figure skating competition, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency was the authority in power to suspend Valieva from further competition in Beijing — thus delaying the medal ceremony.
Valieva immediately appealed the suspension, according to the ITA statement, and RUSADA decided to lift the suspension after a hearing on February 9. The reasoning behind the decision and grounds for lifting the suspension will be issued to concerned parties but has not yet been made public.
Figure skating’s governing body, the International Skating Union, along with other organizations, including the IOC, also has the right to file an appeal on the suspension.
A decision is expected before Valieva is next due to take part in competition on February 15.
Athletes from Russia are participating in these games under a neutral flag as part of sanctions meted out against RUSADA for enabling a state-sponsored doping program dating as far back as 2010.
Valieva’s two Russian teammates, Alexandra Trusova and Anna Scherbakova, are also expected to perform quads when they take Olympic ice next week.
All three are coached by Eteri Tutberidze, whose virtuosic skaters have won an unprecedented number of medals and suffered an unusually high number of injuries in recent years.
The jump technique Tutberidze teaches requires that a skater maintain an extremely low body weight so that they can more easily complete rotations in the air. Her skaters are typically very thin and very small and are known to burn out dramatically when they go through puberty and develop bulkier bodies.