The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee released a statement Monday in response to the decision to allow Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to continue to compete at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
“We are disappointed by the message this decision sends,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. “It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches, and all involved to the highest of standards.
“Athletes have the right to know that they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Monday that Valieva is eligible to compete in the upcoming women’s figure skating individual competition, despite failing a drug test before the Olympics.
Valieva’s urine sample was collected on Dec. 25 in St. Petersburg, Russia, but her test results were not flagged until Feb. 8, a day after she helped the Russians win a gold medal in the team figure skating event. The US earned silver, while Japan took bronze. The medals have yet to be officially awarded.
A laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden reported to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) that Valieva had tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance thought to increase endurance. RUSADA temporarily suspended Valieva before reinstating her after she appealed the decision.
The International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency, and International Skating Union then appealed the decision to lift the suspension, prompting the CAS to schedule a hearing. The court ruled Valieva can compete in Beijing while her doping case remains unresolved.
“We know this case is not yet closed,” Hirshland continued. “We call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”
The gold medal Valieva won in the team event, as well as any medal she may win in the individual competition, could potentially be taken from her.
Valieva is one of 30 skaters set to compete in the short program, which begins Tuesday evening in Beijing. Americans Mariah Bell, Alysa Liu, and Karen Chen are also in the field. Medals will not be awarded until the conclusion of the free skate portion, which is scheduled to take place Thursday evening.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.