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Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva faces potential FOUR-year doping ban

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva faces a potential four-year doping ban which would rule her out of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday.

CAS said it had registered an appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said last week it was taking the case to the Switzerland-based tribunal. WADA argues Russian officials have not made progress in resolving the 16-year-old Valieva’s case nearly a year after she tested positive for a heart medication banned in sports.

The CAS statement said WADA is seeking ‘the athlete be sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility starting on the date on which the CAS award enters into force.’ If granted, that would cover the next Olympics in Italy.

Kamila Valieva of Russia competes in the Junior Ladies Short Program during day 3 of the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships at Tondiraba Ice Hall on March 06, 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva faces a potential four-year doping ban which would rule her out of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday

Valieva was allowed to train under intense scrutiny as a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing was prepared that allowed her to compete pending the full investigation in Russia. That is still ongoing. However, her main routine was filled with errors and she dropped to fourth place. She was then criticized rink-side by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze

Valieva was allowed to train under intense scrutiny as a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing was prepared that allowed her to compete pending the full investigation in Russia. That is still ongoing. However, her main routine was filled with errors and she dropped to fourth place. She was then criticized rink-side by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze

WADA also wants Valieva to be disqualified from all competitions since December 2021, when she gave a sample which later tested positive. That would include losing the gold medal she won in the team event at the Beijing Olympics in February, when she was 15.

Pandemic-related delays at the Swedish laboratory processing Valieva’s sample meant the result was only revealed after she had won the team gold. A previous CAS panel opted against a provisional suspension and allowed Valieva to keep skating in the individual event, where she placed fourth. Her age was a factor in the decision to let her skate.

In the fallout from the controversy, the Olympics raised the minimum age for figure skating to 17. 

The limit will be phased in with 15-year-olds continuing to be allowed to compete next season, a minimum age of 16 in the 2023-24 season, rising to 17 the season after, which is the last before the Olympics.

The ISU said the new rule was ‘for the sake of protecting the physical and mental health, and emotional well-being of the skaters.’

It should disrupt the career of top Russian junior Sofia Akateva, who is 14. Her birthday in July falls days after the July 1 deadline to classify skaters’ ages for the upcoming season, though for the 2026 Olympics she will be 18 and able to compete.

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with figure skater Kamila Valieva during an awards ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games medal winners at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 26

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with figure skater Kamila Valieva during an awards ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games medal winners at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 26

The change was coming even before figure skating at the Beijing Olympics was dominated by the emotional stress put on the 15-year-old Valieva. She was the favorite to take individual gold, after helping the Russians win the team title, before her positive doping test from December was belatedly revealed during the Olympics.

The teenager was allowed to train under intense scrutiny as a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing was prepared that allowed her to compete pending the full investigation in Russia. That is still ongoing.

However, her main routine was filled with errors and she dropped to fourth place. She was then criticized rink-side by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze.

The ISU drafted an age-limit proposal saying ‘burnout, disordered eating, and long-term consequences of injury’ were a risk to young teenage skaters who are pushed to perform more quadruple jumps.

The decision was criticized in Russia, where skaters are currently banned by the ISU from international competitions because of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

‘I think it was done to more or less even out the competition, so that our Russian female skaters couldn’t have the opportunity to win world championship, European, Olympic medals,’ Dmitri Soloviev, a team event gold medalist for Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, told broadcaster Match TV.

‘But in my opinion Eteri Tutberidze will find a way to get our athletes into ideal condition at the age of 17 or 18,’ Soloviev said, ‘so that they can show their best results at international competitions at that age in particular.’

Russia's Kamila Valieva competes in the women's single skating short program of the figure skating team event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 6

Russia’s Kamila Valieva competes in the women’s single skating short program of the figure skating team event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 6

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