Kamila Valieva, the Russian figure skating star at the center of a doping scandal threatening to overshadow the Beijing Olympics, returned to the ice at a practice rink on Saturday, hitting quadruple jump after quadruple jump as she prepared for an event from which she may soon be barred.
Valieva’s status as a competitor in the Games is in doubt after it was revealed Friday that she had tested positive for a banned drug in December, a finding that — if it had not been delayed more than six weeks — would have made her ineligible to compete in Beijing.
“This is a very complicated and controversial situation,” Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, told Russia’s state-run TV network Channel One on Saturday in her first public comments about the case. “There are many questions and very few answers.”
Despite those unknowns, Tutberidze quickly added, “I wanted to say that we are absolutely confident that Kamila is innocent and clean.”
The legal battle over Valieva’s eligibility to compete at the Games will continue Sunday with a hearing before a panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court, in a statement, said it expects to render a decision by Monday afternoon, just a day before the women’s short program begins.
The panel of arbitrators will consider an appeal filed by several groups, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union, who have challenged a decision by Russia’s antidoping agency to lift a provisional suspension of Valieva, 15, last week.
The Russian antidoping agency said it received Valieva’s positive test result on Monday, the same day Valieva led the Russian team to a gold medal in the team event. It provisionally suspended her on Tuesday, shortly before the medals were to be awarded in the team event, after informing her of the positive test, but then lifted the penalty a day later.
Tutberidze, in her comments to Channel One, said she was not sure how Valieva had been cleared to compete at the Olympics in the first place. It took a Stockholm lab more than six weeks to report that the urine sample Valieva submitted on Dec. 25 had been found to contain traces of a banned drug, trimetazidine, that is thought to increase endurance.
Russian officials have been quick to defend Valieva, who is the heavy favorite to win the gold medal in the women’s singles event. Russia’s sports minister, Oleg Matytsin, said that he had spoken twice with Valieva and said “it is doubly convincing that she is completely innocent.” Tutberidze raised new doubts about the delayed test result, saying: “Either this was an ill-fated confluence of circumstances, or it was a very well-conceived plan. I hope our officials will not abandon us and defend our rights and prove our innocence.”
Valieva Is ‘Innocent and Clean,’ Her Coach Declares Ahead of Eligibility Hearing appeared first on maserietv.com.