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Beijing Olympics: Russian skater’s failed drug test confirmed, setting up fight with IOC

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Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva failed a test for a banned substance and her future at the Beijing Olympics will be decided before her next event on Tuesday, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said on Friday.

Valieva, 15, failed the test collected at the Russian national championships on Dec. 25 and the sample returned positive on Feb. 8, prompting the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to impose an automatic provisional suspension, ITA said in a statement.

Valieva appealed the suspension on Feb. 9 and RUSADA lifted it, allowing her to continue to compete at the Games.

Read more: Beijing Olympics - Russian medallist returns to training after reported positive drug test

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said it wanted the matter to be expedited as quickly as possible, will appeal against RUSADA’s decision with a ruling expected before Tuesday’s women’s single event.

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“The IOC will exercise its right to appeal and not to wait for the reasoned decision by RUSADA, because a decision is needed before the next competition the athlete is due to take part in (Women Single Skating, 15 February 2022),” ITA said.

The appeal will be handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, competes in the women’s team free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7 in Beijing, China. Natacha Pisarenko/AP

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) skaters won the team event on Monday, but the medal ceremony was delayed for legal reasons, said the IOC at the time.

If Valieva is stripped of her medal, Canada’s Madeline Schizas could move into the bronze position.

Valieva, who had already practiced at the rink adjacent to the Capital Indoor Stadium on Thursday, took to the ice again for practice on Friday.

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The female figure skaters of ROC have another training slot available at 1:05 p.m. local time (0305GMT) on Friday, which they are free to skip.

Russian athletes are already competing without their flag and anthem because of sanctions for past doping violations.

Olympic champion defends Valieva, blames entourage

German figure skating great Katarina Witt, an Olympic champion for East Germany in 1984 and 1988, backed Valieva on social media and pointed the finger at her entourage.

“Those latest terrible olympic skating news, have honestly touched me. Kamila Valieva is a young girl and child prodigy, whose highly difficult performances and grace enchanted the whole world at only 15, a minor, depending on adults and she is not to blame here,” Witt wrote on her Facebook page.

“This scandal is a dramatic turning point for her young and promising career and I sincerely hope that there are enough people by her side to support, to protect and encourage her.”

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Read more: Canada watching closely as ‘legal consultation’ delays Olympics team figure skating medal ceremony

Witt, 56, insisted that Valieva could not be held responsible for the failed test, pointing her finger at the teenager’s entourage.

“As an athlete, you always follow the advice of your confidants, in this case she probably followed her coach and medical team,” she said.

“It is a shame, and the responsible adults should be banned from the sport forever!!! What they knowingly did to her, if true, cannot be surpassed in inhumanity and makes my athlete’s heart cry infinitely.

“I admire Kamila as a radiant star, who burst into the orbit of the international skating world, and I still very much wish she has come to stay.”

(Reporting by Julien Prétot and Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Michael Perry)

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