The World Anti-Doping Agency has condemned the doctors and coaches of Kamila Valieva, the Russian figure skater who tested positive for a prohibited drug at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, saying: “The doping of children is unforgivable.”
Valieva, now 17, received a four-year doping ban on Monday, effectively stripping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) of its gold medal in the team event from the Games nearly two years after the fact.
In its long-awaited ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) found Valieva guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation that rocked the Beijing Olympics and frustrated competitors who are still waiting for their medals from the event to be allocated.
“Kamila Valieva is found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility commencing on 25 December 2021,” Cas said.
The court added that all competitive results achieved since that date are voided, including the gold medal she helped ROC win in the team event at the 2022 Games.
Wada, one of the parties that brought the case to Cas, welcomed the decision, describing it as a victory for fair sport.
“Wada took this appeal to Cas in the interests of fairness for athletes and clean sport and we believe that has been delivered through this decision,” it said in a statement. “The doping of children is unforgivable. Doctors, coaches or other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full force of the World Anti-Doping Code. Indeed, Wada encourages governments to consider passing legislation – as some have done already – making the doping of minors a criminal offence.”
The CAS panel determined there had been no scope for Valieva, who was 15 at the time of the offence, to be treated with more leniency that an adult found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Valieva tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, which prevents angina, at the Russian national championships in December 2021. Her team has said the positive test could have been due to a mix-up with her grandfather’s heart medication.
The result of the positive doping test was only made known a day after she helped the ROC win gold in the team event in Beijing in February 2022.
Valieva, who became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics during the team event, had been favourite to win the singles gold but missed out on an individual medal after dropping to fourth place with an error-laden free skate.
During the Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided no medals for the team figure skating event would be presented until Valieva’s case had been resolved.
The United States took silver behind the Russians, with Japan getting the bronze and Canada placing fourth.
American figure skaters have repeatedly expressed their frustration over the delay in receiving the team medals.
Additional reporting by Reuters