Kamila Valieva’s Olympic case heads to court with Russian doping in focus | Kamila Valieva

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has begun hearing Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s doping case, a scandal that rocked the sport and cast a shadow over her country’s already embattled anti-doping system.

Nineteen months after Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win gold in the team event at the 2022 Beijing Games despite testing positive for a banned substance, her fellow competitors are still awaiting justice.

“Given the significant delay, justice seems to have been defeated because the athletes – including Valieva herself, the Russian team and the other teams who stand to obtain medals – haven’t had their medal ceremony,” said the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) chief executive Travis Tygart. “You just can’t possibly attempt to replace what’s been lost by the athletes who right now are holding empty medal boxes.”

Quick Guide

How do I sign up for sport breaking news alerts?


  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for ‘The Guardian’.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sport notifications.

Thank you for your feedback.

Valieva was 15 when she became the first woman to complete a quadruple jump at the Olympics in the team event. A day later it emerged that the teenager had tested positive for trimetazidine, designed to prevent angina, at the Russian national championships in December 2021, just weeks before the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) authorised Valieva to take part in the women’s single event despite her positive test but said medals for the team event would not be allocated until her case was settled.

The Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada) disciplinary commission found that Valieva had committed a violation for which she bore “no fault or negligence”. She was not sanctioned but her results from the national championships on the day she tested positive were voided. Rusada, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and the International Skating Union (ISU) are all challenging this decision at sport’s highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland, in a three-day hearing.

Rusada said it was seeking “the appropriate consequences” for the skater’s offence, while Wada wants a four-year ban for Valieva that would include voiding her results from Beijing. This effectively would deny ROC their team event gold medal. The ISU also wants to see Valieva banned for the violation. “We want a just outcome of the case, based on the facts,” said Wada spokesperson James Fitzgerald in a statement.

Kamila Valieva attends a meeting of president Vladimir Putin with Russia's medal-winning athletes at Beijing 2022.
Kamila Valieva attends a meeting of president Vladimir Putin with Russia’s medal-winning athletes at Beijing 2022. Photograph: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

CAS said the parties to the proceedings did not want a public hearing and denied a request by the silver medal-winning US team to have an observer attend on their behalf. Vincent Zhou, one of the US skaters, said in a statement on Monday that the global anti-doping system was “failing athletes”. “An open and transparent hearing would go a long way towards helping athletes understand any decision that is rendered,” he said. “Transparency would build confidence in a global anti-doping system that has lost the trust of its most important stakeholders: athletes.”

The IOC said in a statement on Tuesday it shared athletes’ frustration. “We want competition results to be final at Games-time so that athletes can enjoy the glory of the moment during the Games,” it said.

Valieva and representatives of Rusada have not travelled to Lausanne to be heard by the court, appearing via video link instead. CAS has said it was unclear when a ruling would be announced. Anti-doping experts do not expect it for months.