In the United States and Canada in particular, the response to the Camila Valeeva case has been disappointing. CAS Court of Sports ruled on Monday that the Russian snowboarder may remain active at the Winter Olympics in Beijing despite a positive doping test.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected a request by the International Olympic Committee, ISU and WADA to suspend Valieva for the time being. It won’t be clear until after the Winter Games whether the fifteen-year-old skater will be penalized for a positive doping test in December.
“We are disappointed with this decision,” said Sarah Hirschland, president of the US Olympic Committee. “It is the collective responsibility of the Olympic community to ensure the integrity of the competition.”
“Athletes have a right to know that they are participating in a fair competition. Unfortunately, they are being denied that right today. This appears to be a new chapter in Russia’s systematic and widespread disdain for clean sport.”
Russian athletes are not allowed to participate in Beijing under the flag of their country, but as an “athlete of the Russian Olympic Committee”. Russia has been banned from international sports competitions since the widespread doping of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
“Time will tell whether Valeeva will be punished”
After a competition in December, Valieva tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine. The result of the test was not announced until after she won the gold medal at the Nations Cup with Russia last week. The gold medal was not delivered.
“Only time will tell if Valieva’s results stand or they will be ruled out afterwards,” said Travis Tygart, president of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“In any case, this is the sixth time in a row that Russia has overshadowed the Olympics and doping. The exclusion rules for this young athlete caused chaos.”
“This case leaves a scar for the sport.”
As one of the arguments for not suspending Valieva, CAS argued that she is only 15 years old. Athletes under the age of sixteen are considered “protected persons” under WADA rules.
“This situation is very unfortunate and sad for all the athletes,” said Tricia Smith, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). “The COC is a strong supporter of clean sport and we never want doping to have a place in the Olympics.”
Two-time Olympic figure skating champion Johnny Weir says he disagrees with the CAS decision. “There was a positive doping test. Regardless of the age or timing of the test, an athlete should not compete against clean athletes,” says the American.
Tara Lipinsky, a former US Olympic champion, “strongly opposes” the decision not to suspend Valeeva for the time being pending the outcome of the investigation. “I have no doubt that it should be banned,” he added. “This case leaves a scar on our sport.”
Russians are happy with the pronunciation
In Russia, there is jubilant reaction to the decision to allow Valieva’s team to play in the singles tournament on Tuesday. “We will cheer for her tomorrow,” the Russian Olympic Committee said.
“I am glad that common sense prevailed and Valeeva could continue to play sports,” said Alexander Gorshkov, president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation.
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