<img src='https://news.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-30/Beijing-Olympics-star-Kamila-Valieva-handed-4-year-ban-for-doping-1qMnF03a69q/img/9f7242dc549a42bcae1c27d1e5027c33/9f7242dc549a42bcae1c27d1e5027c33.jpeg' alt='Kamila Valieva skates during the women single skating short program team event on day two of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China, February 6, 2022. /CFP'

Kamila Valieva, the prodigious Russian teenager who skyrocketed to international fame as the first female skater to successfully execute a quadruple jump at a Winter Olympics, has been handed a four-year ban. This development appears to be the culmination of a lengthy battle that intertwined lamentable themes seen in recent sporting spectacles: a mix of exceptional athletic achievements, the shadow of doping scandals, acrimonious allegations, and murmurs of conspiracies.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced on Monday that the punishment handed to Valieva is linked to a sample she provided during the Russian national championships. It is worth noting that Valieva was just 15 years old at the time. The revelation of this result came during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, shortly after Valieva had led the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to a first-place finish in the team competition, with the United States placing second and Japan in third.  

The ban will be retroactive to the date of the sample, which was December 25, 2021. Consequently, Valieva will be eligible to compete in the Milano-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics, but the skater will be stripped of all titles, prizes, medals, and awards earned following the collection of her positive doping sample.

<img src='https://news.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-30/Beijing-Olympics-star-Kamila-Valieva-handed-4-year-ban-for-doping-1qMnF03a69q/img/2e16f4781bc54b14a541d17751e3a9f5/2e16f4781bc54b14a541d17751e3a9f5.jpeg' alt='Kamila Valieva attends a training session prior to the Figure Skating Event at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China, February 11, 2022. /CFP'

Valieva had previously asserted that her positive drug test resulted from mistakenly taking a heart medication, trimetazidine (TMZ), which had been prescribed to her grandfather. This substance, along with two other medications, was discovered in her sample.  

An investigation conducted by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) later concluded that Valieva bore “no fault or negligence” for the failed test, not due to her explanation, but rather because of her status as a minor, which deemed her a “protected person” who could not be held accountable.  

However, the CAS panel stated in their latest ruling that Valieva had not been able to sufficiently prove, based on the evidence presented, that she had not intentionally committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV). They further emphasized that the athlete’s age, whether adult or a “Protected Person,” had no bearing on their judgment.

<img src='https://news.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-30/Beijing-Olympics-star-Kamila-Valieva-handed-4-year-ban-for-doping-1qMnF03a69q/img/0c14cbc0549b4ad0a4f627f2d2a2c47f/0c14cbc0549b4ad0a4f627f2d2a2c47f.jpeg' alt='Kamila Valieva reacts following her performance in the women's short program team figure skating competition on day two of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China, February 6, 2022. /CFP'

What will happen to Valieva’s medal in Beijing?

When the news of Valieva’s doping case initially emerged, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision not to allocate medals for the team event in which she had participated.  

After Valieva’s ban was confirmed on Monday, the CAS confirmed that it did not have the authority to determine the final standings of the team event in the Beijing Games. This responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the International Skating Union (ISU). Subsequently, the ISU expressed its appreciation for CAS’s decision and announced its intention to issue a comprehensive statement addressing the implications of the ruling on Tuesday.  

While the final details are yet to be confirmed, it appears highly likely that the United States, who secured the silver medal, will be awarded the gold, with Japan moving up to silver and Canada receiving the bronze, considering their fourth-place finish in the event two years ago.

“Today is a day we have been eagerly awaiting for two years, as it is a significant win not only for Team USA athletes, but also for athletes worldwide who practise fair play and advocate for clean sport,” read a statement from Sarah Hirshland, chief executive officer of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The sentiment was echoed by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). “We believe the decision is an important milestone in this years-long case,” said the COC. “We once again congratulate the affected Team Canada athletes for their incredible performances two years ago, and their enduring strength of character during this long process.”

<img src='https://news.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-30/Beijing-Olympics-star-Kamila-Valieva-handed-4-year-ban-for-doping-1qMnF03a69q/img/5846b2d7a0514943a8e153eb1349a894/5846b2d7a0514943a8e153eb1349a894.jpeg' alt='Kamila Valieva performs during the Russian Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Moscow, Russia, November 25, 2023. /CFP'

Can Valieva bounce back in next Olympics?

Valieva’s performance at the Beijing Games was highly anticipated, as she was considered one of the rising stars of the showpiece event. Initially, she lived up to the hype by leading the ROC to a gold medal in the team event, showcasing her exceptional skills with a remarkable quadruple jump. However, the joy was short-lived as news broke a day later that she had tested positive for TMZ several weeks prior. This revelation sparked a media frenzy and put Valieva under immense scrutiny.

Despite the controversy, Valieva was eventually granted permission by the CAS to compete in the individual figure skating event. However, the intense pressure appeared to take its toll, as she experienced two falls during her performance and ultimately finished in fourth place. Following this disappointment, a prolonged legal battle ensued for two years before CAS finally rendered its verdict on Monday.

While the four-year ban allows Valieva to still have a shot at competing in the 2026 Winter Olympics, the question remains whether she can regain her former glory. It is not uncommon for elite skaters to face setbacks and make triumphant comebacks, but the desire and physical condition required to return to top form are uncertain in Valieva’s case.

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