Update on the Valieva doping case and its impact on the 2022 Olympic Team Event


By Matteo Morelli | Photos by Melanie Heaney

Two years after the last Winter Olympic Games took place, the Kamila Valieva doping case finally received a verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) whereby the athlete was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation. Their decision included a four-year ban for the athlete and competitive results from the day the sample was taken to be disqualified.

In this article, we recap how the events unfolded and what was the impact of the CAS decision on the results from the events that Valieva competed in, with a focus on the ice dance Team event at the Olympic Games.

The unfolding of events
Russian athlete Kamila Valieva is a skater that entered the senior field in the 2021/22 season, winning both of her Grand Prix assignments (the Grand Prix Final that season was cancelled). She is an athlete of Sambo 70, the team led by coach Eteri Turberidze alongside Sergej Dudakov and Daniil Gleikhengauz.

On December 25, 2021, Valieva competed at the Russian nationals, winning the title. During this event, an anti-doping sample was collected and sent to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Sweden.

On January 15, the following year, Valieva won the European continental title in Tallinn, Estonia. Because of her exceptional competitive results in the season, she was appointed to represent the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The Team event took place on February 6 and 7. Alongside her teammates, Valieva competed against the qualified countries to win both segments of the Women’s Team event competitions and contributing to team ROC ending in first place.

The medal ceremony was due to take place on February 8, however it ended up being postponed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for initial reports on an urgent situation that required legal advice from the International Skating Union (ISU). The day after, it became public knowledge that Kamila Valieva was notified of a positive result to trimetazidine from the doping sample taken the previous December at Nationals. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) initially indicated a provisional suspension of the athlete, to then lift the decision the day after and allowing her to compete in the individual event.

On February 11, the ISU, WADA and IOC filed an appeal to CAS to reinstate the provisional suspension. At a hearing on February 13, Valieva stated that the substance was the result of a case of contamination with her grandfather’s medicines; the following day, CAS determined that the lift on the suspension remained valid due to exceptional circumstances: the athlete was, in fact, deemed to be a Protected Person due to her age (15 at the time).

The Women’s short programme took place on February 15, with Valieva ending in first place. On February 17, Valieva ended fifth in the free programme, finishing out of the podium with teammate Anna Shcherbakova earning the Olympic title.

Team USA requested CAS to present the athletes with the Team event medal, but their application was dismissed.

The investigations and CAS sentence
RUSADA’s investigation were completed in September 2022. On January 13, 2023 RUSADA’s disciplinary tribunal found that Valieva had no fault for her positive doping test, with a sanction to disqualify her national title on the day of the test.

On February 2023 and a year from the Olympic Games, further appeals were filed by RUSADA, ISU and WADA.

The CAS hearing started at the end of September of the same year, only to be completed in November.

On January 29, 2024, Kamila Valieva was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation from her positive test ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The decision from CAS was to ban the athlete from December 25, 2021 (the day the sample was collected at Russian nationals) for a period of four years, alongside the disqualification of all competitive results and resulting consequences (including forfeiture of any titles, awards, medals, profits, prizes, and appearance money).

Their rationale appealed to the fact that the Russian Anti-Doping Regulation states that the athlete is responsible for demonstrating why they didn’t commit a violation intentionally and as such there is no basis under the rules to treat them any differently from an adult athlete, thus diverging from the Protected Person status initially applied to the case.

The ISU response
CAS’ jurisdiction limited to deciding on the case, however any application of the consequences linked to the retroactive disqualification of Valieva from past events were not within their scope and had to be addressed by the relevant institutions.

On January 30, the ISU ruled that Valieva would be disqualified from all competitions which took place during the period of ineligibility, including the European Figure Skating Championships 2022 and the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Women’s single competition and Team event. This was applied by disqualifying her results from the Team event and removing the points that contributed to the team’s totals, with a subsequent re-ranking of the Team event results.

Impact on ice dance results
With the re-distribution of points at the Team event, the medal positions changed to reflect the new totals as per the ISU decision.

The ROC team originally ended in gold medal position with a total of 74 points, however the disqualification of Valieva meant that the team lost the 20 points she earned from winning both Women’s segments, ending in bronze medal position with a new total of 54 points. The ROC’s ice dance couple for both segments was Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, which also won a silver medal in the ice dance event behind reigning Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.

Team USA, which has been playing a strong role throughout this entire situation by constantly speaking up and asking for a resolution, was originally in silver medal position with 65 points, however the ISU decision determined that the entire American delegation would be awarded the gold medal. This affects the two American ice dance couples that competed at the event: Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who skated the RD at the Team event and also won bronze at the individual ice dance event, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who skated the free dance at the Team event.

Team Japan, originally in third place with 63 points, moved up to the silver medal position. Their ice dance team competing in both segments was Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto.

The controversy and current situation
Even if Valieva’s results were disqualified and points deducted from the total scores at the Team event, an argument was raised in relation to all other Women’s results at the event moving up by a spot but not being given the relevant points relating to the new rankings. Although the gold and silver medal position wouldn’t be affected, these changes are particularly pertinent for team Canada, which ended the Team event in fourth place with 53 total points.

If the Women’s point are amended as per the new rankings, Madeline Schizas points would determine a different scenario: she originally ended in third place in both segments however, with Valieva disqualified, Schizas moved to second place and if her total points changed to a total of 18 (9 per segment) rather than 16 (8 per segment) as they currently stand, then the total points for team Canada would be 55, therefore allowing them to end in third place claiming bronze and ROC in fourth place with 54 points and no medals.

The Canadian Federation is keen to find an answer to this question and understand why a change in rankings was not reflected in a change in points. On February 16th, Skate Canada and the Canadian athletes from the Team event decided to formally appeal the ISU decision in respect of the bronze figure skating medal at the Team event.

This is expected to impact the allocation of at least the bronze medals however, at the point of writing this article, there are still no news in relation to when the gold and silver teams should receive their medals, or any news relating to a much deserved and too late medal ceremony, which all winning teams should be entitled to receive.

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