Doping decision imminent for Russian skater at Olympics

After a marathon doping hearing that ended early on Monday morning, 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva awaits to hear whether she can compete for the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, practices during a training session at the 2022 Winter Olympics.   -  AP

After a marathon doping hearing that ended early on Monday morning, 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva awaits to hear whether she can compete for the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport didn't announce its hearing at a hotel in Beijing was over until after 3 a.m. local time on Monday. The judges began to deliberate after nearly six hours of online testimony. An announcement is expected Monday afternoon, a day before Valieva's next competition begins.

Valieva is the heavy favorite for the gold medal when the women's event begins with the short program Tuesday. She has set world-record scores in her first season in senior competition and landed the first quadruple jump by a woman at the Olympics.

Her Olympic push was thrown into turmoil last week when a drug-testing lab in Sweden reported the sample she gave at the Russian nationals on December 25 contained the heart medication trimetazidine, which is banned in sports.

Olympic court: Valieva will testify in doping case hearing  

The case has prompted concern for the welfare of Valieva and other child athletes, and questions over the Olympic status of Russia, which is already banned from having its anthem and flag at the Games because of past doping cases.

Valieva's two main rivals for gold are her own teammates, Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova. All three share the same coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who is a focus of two investigations from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Russian anti-doping agency to find out how a young athlete in her care tested positive.

The ruling won't decide what happens to the gold medal Valieva has already won in the team event. That competition concluded Feb. 7 with a commanding victory for the Russian squad, but there's been no medal ceremony because of the ongoing uncertainty. CAS is only deciding whether Valieva can continue to skate until the Dec. 25 positive test can be resolved with a full investigation.

Valieva has the backing of the Kremlin and her teammates. After skating Monday in ice dance, Russian competitor Gleb Smolkin said he and his partner Diana Davis — Tutberidze's daughter — did not feel stressed by the controversy.

“We wish Kamila all the best and we’re going to be very supportive," Smolkin said. "It doesn’t matter what the decision is going to be.”

CAS decision will determine whether Valieva can compete in women's singles - IOC

The Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) ruling on teenage Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva will determine whether she can compete in the women's singles at the Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Monday.

"I can't tell you the absolute gospel truth but my understanding is that the decision will tell you whether she will or will not be competing tomorrow," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a news conference.

"The IOC will follow the Court or Arbitration for Sport's decision, whether we like it nor not.

"We will follow the decision absolutely because it is our job and we will follow that decision to the letter."

Valieva's sample was collected on Dec. 25 at the Russian national championships but the result was only made public on Feb. 8, the day after Valieva led the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to victory in the team event.

Valieva's provisional suspension was lifted by RUSADA on Feb. 9.

Russian athletes are competing in Beijing under a neutral flag due to doping sanctions.

The medal ceremony for the team event has been delayed. The United States finished the second, with Japan third and Canada in fourth place.

Adams said it was unlikely that the medals would be handed out during these Games.

"All the other issues will have to be discussed further into the Games," he added. "This (the medals) will not be sorted out by this decision. That will probably not be sorted out during this Games."

(With inputs from Reuters)

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