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Russian figure skating prodigy who failed drug test is allowed to compete at Olympics

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Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Kamila Valieva — the 15-year-old Russian figure skating prodigy who became the subject of controversy last week over a failed drug test — will be allowed to compete in the women's individual figure skating competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

What are the details?

Valieva's hopes for another gold medal for her country were in question after reports surfaced that she tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, while competing at the European championship in Estonia in December 2021.

But in a preliminary ruling issued Monday, the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that Valieva, who is the clear favorite to win the women's individual gold, should not be subject to a provisional suspension ahead of a full investigation primarily because, as a 15-year-old, she is a "protected person" under the World Anti-Doping Code.

Under the current rules, younger athletes are not subject to the same standards for evidence and punishment as adult athletes.

"The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympics would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances," the CAS said in the ruling.

It also added that "there were serious issues of untimely notification of the results of the Athlete’s anti-doping test that was performed in December 2021 which impinged upon the Athlete’s ability to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit."

Trimetazidine is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances because it can aid an athlete's endurance through increase blood flow efficiency.

What else?

In response to the ruling, the International Olympic Committee declared that "in the interest of fairness to all athletes" there will be no medal ceremony if Valieva places in the top three, ESPN reported.

The IOC added that it will "organize dignified medal ceremonies once the case of Ms. Valieva has been concluded.''

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee blasted the ruling in a statement, saying it was "disappointed by the message this decision sends."

"It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sports and to hold our athletes, coaches, and all involved to the highest of standards," CEO Sarah Hirshland said. "Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sports by Russia."

"We know this case is not yet closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world," Hirshland added.

Anything else?

Valieva's failed drug test prior to the Beijing Games was of particular interest due to Russia's sordid and notable history of doping. The country's widespread performance-enhancing drug operation at the 2014 Winter Olympics led to the country being banned from the past three Olympic Games, including this year's.

In each of those Games, however, Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee banner.

Valieva's failed test also garnered considerable attention because the teenager, though only 15, is already considered by many to be the best figure skater ever. She already holds nine world records and has won every event she has ever competed in.

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