Russian teenager Kamila Valieva will go into Thursday’s free skate event in gold medal position in the individual skating competition after an emotional display in Beijing
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva left the ice in tears despite a strong display in Tuesday’s women’s short programme.
Valieva, 15, continues to compete under a dark cloud in Beijing, having tested positive for the banned substance Trimetazidine.
Her result was announced after she’d delivered a virtuoso performance in the team event, seemingly helping her team win gold.
The medal ceremony was duly cancelled though following the sensational development, and Valieva’s status as the clear favourite to triumph in the individual competition appeared in tatters.
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However, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency [RUSADA] then lifted the provisional suspension on the athlete, a decision contested by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA], who appealed to the Court of Arbitration to Sport [CAS].
On Monday, CAS cleared the youngster to participate, citing the ‘exceptional circumstances’ that centred around her being a minor, and the fact her positive test, produced on December 25, was not confirmed until after the team event had concluded.
WADA president Witold Banka duly delivered a scathing opinion on the verdict, clearly taking aim at Russian authorities by saying “the doping of children is evil and unforgivable.”
The saga has served to pile the pressure on Valieva, but despite her frenzied build-up, she will go into the free skate on Thursday in the gold medal position.
She overcame a slight stumble on one of her jumps to notch a score of 82.16, which left her ahead of Russian Olympic Committee team-mate Anna Shcherbakova, who notched 80.20, with Japan’s Kaori Sakamotoin third having been given 79.84 by the judges.
After finishing her routine, the emotional toll of the past week was evident as tears steamed down Valieva’s face as she left the ice to face the media.
Valieva’s presence in the individual event has proved a divisive issue, and to further add to the controversy, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have already confirmed that again, no ceremony will take place if she finishes in the top three – a scenario looking increasingly likely after Tuesday’s display.
Prior to her going out on the ice, IOC official Denis Oswald had revealed that the star’s mother, Alsu, had attributed her positive test to sharing the same glass of her grandfather, who she claimed takes the medication for an angina problem.
Trimetazidine is on the banned WADA list as it also improves physical efficiency and can aid endurance.