Travis Tygart: US anti-doping chief says Russia ‘hijacked competition’ after Kamila Valieva decision at Beijing 2022
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Skating Union (ISU) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had all called on CAS to reinstate a suspension Valieva had received from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), for doping violation regarding a test sample taken in December.
In a statement, CAS said it had decided Valieva, 15, should be allowed to compete due to “exceptional circumstances”, including specific provisions relating to her status as a “protected person” under the code. from WADA, because she is a minor.
CAS also noted that Valieva did not test positive during the Winter Olympics. In making its decision, the panel considered “fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality and irreparable harm,” according to a statement.
Although Tygart acknowledged that this decision should be respected, he said it was “rushed”.
“Only time will tell if [Valieva] should participate in these Games and whether all of his results will be disqualified or not,” he said.
However, if it turns out that Valieva should not have competed, Tygart said the verdict “will reveal how much of a farce the IOC’s handling of Russia’s state-sponsored doping system has been over the past few years.” last eight years”.
“If Russia had followed the rules, we would know for sure the result of the figure skating team event and the athletes who gave their all could have their moment on the podium during these Games as they rightly deserve with the world celebrating with them.”
Medal ceremonies in limbo
“In the interest of fairness for all athletes and NOCs involved, it would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event during the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. 2022 because it would include an athlete who…has a positive test. A sample, but whose anti-doping rule violation has not yet been established,” the IOC said.
If Valieva finishes on the podium in the women’s singles skating competition this week, the IOC added that “no flower ceremony and medal ceremony will take place during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022” for this event.
“The IOC requests the International Skating Union (ISU), for reasons of fairness, to allow a 25th competitor to participate in the free skating portion of the competition on February 17, in the event that Ms Valieva is placed in the first 24 of the short program on February 15,” the IOC statement added.
In Tygart’s statement obtained by CNN, the US anti-doping chief also called for compassion for Valieva, saying she had been “let down” by the Russians and the global anti-doping system.
“We should all have compassion for her and not pass judgment on her, but instead demand that the global system reform itself to ensure these types of failures don’t happen,” he said. .
News of the decision was criticized by the wider Olympic community, with retired figure skating champion Tara Lipinski calling it a “scar”.
“I strongly disagree with this decision. In the end, there was a positive test and there is no doubt in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete,” Lipinski wrote in a series of tweets.
“It doesn’t matter the age or the timing of the test/results. I think it will leave a permanent scar on our sport.
“A final thought. I’ve said it before, she’s only 15. Please keep that in mind. That’s a lot for a young person. I hope the adults who blamed will be held RESPONSIBLE. It’s heartbreaking.”
“Not reported by RUSADA”
WADA said it was “disappointed” with the CAS decision, although its statement raises troubling questions over the oversight of Valieva’s case as the world anti-doping body appears to blame RUSADA for the way the controversy took place.
“Although WADA did not receive the reasoned award, it appears that the CAS panel decided not to apply the terms of the Code, which does not allow specific exceptions to be made with respect to mandatory Provisional Suspensions. for ‘protected persons’, including minors,” the AMA said on Monday.
The teenage skater’s drug sample was taken from Valieva during the 2022 Russian Figure Skating Championships in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on December 25.
However, according to the world anti-doping body, it was not until February 7 that a WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm confirmed an Adverse Analytical Finding in Valieva’s sample – the day she helped the ROC team to win figure skating gold. team event at Beijing 2022.
“WADA still expects Anti-Doping Organizations to liaise with laboratories to ensure they expedite sample analysis so that results are received before athletes surrender or compete. at a major event, such as the Olympic or Paralympic Games,” the WADA statement added.
“According to information received by WADA, the sample in this case was not flagged by RUSADA as being a priority sample when it was received by the anti-doping laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden. This meant that the laboratory did not know how to speed up the analysis of this sample.”
“A celebration of common sense”
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) said it would “systematically defend the rights and interests of Russian athletes”, but added that it was “extremely important to carry out a full-fledged objective investigation to establish all the circumstances of the situation”.
“The ROC is interested in an objective and fair decision on this matter following the results of the legal proceedings,” he said in a statement Monday.
Meanwhile, Alexander Gorshkov, president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, called the decision “a celebration of common sense and justice”, according to state media RIA Novosti.
Russian figure skater Nikita Katsalapov also supported her compatriot when competing for the ROC team in Beijing, saying “let’s go Kamila!” questioned about the CAS decision.
Valieva isn’t the only person implicated in doping allegations. As she is a minor, the AMA told CNN that the agency will investigate her surroundings, as it is required to do.
Valieva’s next appearance at Beijing 2022 is now expected on Tuesday, when she will be the favorite in the women’s singles short program.
If Valieva finishes on the podium, the IOC has said no medal ceremony will take place until her case is fully concluded.
CNN’s Selina Wang, Hannah Ritchie, Wayne Sterling, Aleks Klosok, Duarte Mendonca and Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting.