The 15-year-old figure skater embroiled in a Winter Games doping scandal has defended her positive drug test by saying it was caused by a mix-up with her grandfather’s heart medication, an Olympic official said on Tuesday.
Kamila Valieva made the argument at a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) into whether she should be allowed to continue competing in Beijing, Denis Oswald, Permanent Chair of the International Olympic Committee’s Disciplinary Commission said.
“Her argument was this contamination happened with a product her grandfather was taking,” Oswald said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the IOC did not immediately respond to a Reuters email after his comments.
Earlier, the IOC said in a press conference that Valieva’s “B” sample was yet to be analyzed despite the initial positive result.
The teenager was cleared by CAS to compete in Tuesday evening’s single event after a panel agreed with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) decision to lift a ban on her.
Valieva was tested at her national championships on Dec. 25, but the positive test for a banned angina drug was not revealed until Feb. 8, after she had already competed at the Beijing Games.
Valieva, who is due to compete in the single competition starting at about 6 p.m. Beijing time (1000 GMT), spoke to Russia’s Channel One after practice on Monday.
“These (past few) days have been very difficult for me,” Valieva said.
“It’s as if I don’t have any emotions left. I am happy but at the same time I am emotionally tired.”
CAS’s decision to let Valieva compete, on the grounds that maintaining the suspension would cause her irreparable damage, has prompted outrage from athletes and officials around the world.
If Valieva finishes in the top three of the women’s single event, the medal ceremony will not be held during the Winter Games. The Feb. 7 medal ceremony for the women’s team event, in which the USA, Japan and Canada finished behind the Russian Olympic Committee, also cannot go ahead.
Oswald said the ceremony delay was necessary because the drug case was not resolved.
“We want to allocate the medal to the right person,” he told a press conference.
Oswald also noted that a “15-year-old would not do something wrong alone.”
On Monday, in an interview with Reuters,WADA president Witold Banka called for a life ban on those who would dope a minor.
Oswald said that given the B sample had not yet been examined by the laboratory, any ban would only be decided once there was a final decision on the case.
American Tara Lipinski, the 1998 Olympics women’s champion, said Valieva should not have been allowed to take part in Tuesday’s event “regardless of age or timing of the test/results.”
“I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann and Julien Pretot; Editing by Leela de Kretser, Richard Pullin and Ken Ferris)