Kremlin rejects Kamila Valieva doping ban decision and vows to ‘mobilise’ any challenge

Figure skater Kamila Valiyeva performs during women's single skating of the Rostelecom Grand Prix Russia at the Megasport Arena in Moscow, Russia on November 26, 2023
There have been calls for children to be banned from competing at the Olympics - Getty Images/Sefa Karacan

The Kremlin has announced plans to challenge a “politicised” four-year doping ban imposed on teenage figure skater Kamila Valieva that has also seen her and her team-mates stripped of their Olympic title.

It follows the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to impose a suspension on Valieva for taking a banned heart drug before the team competition at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and the subsequent downgrading of the Russian team to third place by the International Skating Union (ISU).

Having already branded the Cas ruling “politicised”, the Kremlin went further following the ISU’s response, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: “We do not agree with these decisions – neither with the decision of the court, nor with the decision of the federation. We don’t accept them.

“If there are any opportunities to challenge and continue to defend the rights of our athletes, they must be mobilised to the end.”

The Russian team were awarded the bronze medal by the ISU following a controversial “re-ranking” of teams that voided any points earned by Valieva, with the United States handed gold and Japan silver.

Canada were not upgraded from fourth place, with ISU rules only providing for collective disqualification in the event of a positive drugs test if it occurs during the relevant competition. Valieva’s took place eight weeks earlier.

The now 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time, initially had been found by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) to have borne no “fault or negligence” after testing positive for trimetazidine but the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appealed that decision.

Following a hearing in September, Cas issued a ruling on Monday stating she had failed to demonstrate she had not intentionally doped and should not be treated any differently to an adult.

The Valieva scandal dominated the 2022 Olympics after she was allowed to continue competing at the Games despite having failed a drugs test on Christmas Day the previous year.

News of her positive test only emerged only after she helped the Russian team to victory in Beijing more than a month later, triggering a major crisis that saw the event’s medal ceremony scrapped.

The “emotionally tired” teenager then suffered a tearful meltdown during the individual competition, falling heavily more than once to finish fourth in an event for which she had been favourite to win.

Valieva’s ban was backdated to Christmas Day 2021, leaving her free to compete again on the same date next year.

Peskov said of Valieva and her team-mates: “Upon our return from China from the Olympics, we honoured these athletes as Olympic champions.

“We are convinced that for us they will always remain Olympic champions, no matter what decisions are made in this regard, even unfair ones.”

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