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International court allows Russian figure skater to compete at Olympics amid doping scandal

International court allows Russian figure skater to compete at Olympics amid doping scandal

16.02.2022 | Sharnam Vaswani | Government Law College Mumbai, IN FEBRUARY 15, 2022 09:36:11 AM | 247

An ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Monday issued a decision allowing 15-year old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to compete in the ongoing 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

A urine sample taken from Valieva during the 2022 Russian Figure Skating Championships tested positive for a banned heart medication, trimetazidine. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) imposed a provisional suspension on Valieva following the test results. Valieva challenged her suspension before RUSADA’s Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee which ruled in her favour on February 9, 2022. This decision to reverse her suspension was challenged before the CAS by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Skating Union (ISU).

In its decision, the CAS Panel ruled that Valieva being under 16 years of age is a “Protected Person” under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) which provides for lesser sanctions. The Panel held that since Valieva had not tested positive during the Olympic Games, but rather in December 2021, preventing her from participating in the quadrennial sporting event would cause irreparable harm. The Panel also emphasised that the 44-day delay in reporting Valieva’s adverse test results deprived her of the opportunity to establish certain legal requirements for her benefit. The decision was limited to whether the provisional suspension was rightly lifted and did not contemplate the merits of the case or the legal consequences to the figure skating event.

Responding to the CAS decision, the IOC announced that it will organise a “dignified medal ceremony once the case of Ms. Valieva has been concluded.” Additionally, if Valieva ranks among the top three competitors, no flower or medal ceremony will take place. A twenty-fifth competitor will be allowed to participate in the Free Skating event on February 17, in case she ranks in the first 24 of the short programme on 15 February.

In an official statement, WADA has expressed disappointment in the decision since the WADC does not allow for specific exceptions to be made in relation to mandatory provisional suspensions for ‘protected persons’, including minors.

RUSADA is conducting an investigation and an independent disciplinary body will evaluate all the circumstances related to the potential anti-doping rule violation. Given that Valieva is a minor, authorities are also investigating her doctor, Filipp Shvetsky and her coach, Eteri Tutberidze. WADA has also announced that its independent Intelligence and Investigations Department will investigate the adults who work with Valieva.

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