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Fresh twist in Valieva doping scandal after three substances claim

The 15-year-old figure skater topped the short programme on Tuesday to put herself in prime position to win the women’s singles competition.

Kamila Valieva topped the women's short programme on Tuesday
Kamila Valieva topped the women's short programme on Tuesday - Copyright Russian Defence Ministry/AFP Handout
Kamila Valieva topped the women's short programme on Tuesday - Copyright Russian Defence Ministry/AFP Handout

The Beijing Olympics doping controversy engulfing Russian skater Kamila Valieva took a fresh twist Wednesday after a US media report said she had three substances used to treat heart conditions in the sample which triggered the scandal.

The 15-year-old figure skater topped the short programme on Tuesday to put herself in prime position to win the women’s singles competition when it concludes on Thursday, bursting into tears afterwards and refusing to talk to journalists.

Valieva took centre stage at the Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled she should not be suspended despite failing a drugs test in December, although she has not been cleared of doping and still faces further investigation.

Games testing authorities said last week that the teenager tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can boost endurance.

The New York Times reported that her sample also contained the subtances Hypoxen and L-Carnitine. They are not on WADA’s prohibited list.

The report said the disclosures concerning the different substances were contained in a document submitted at Sunday’s CAS hearing that ended with the controversial decision to allow Valieva to continue competing in Beijing.

Senior IOC member Denis Oswald had told reporters on Tuesday that Valieva informed the CAS panel that she tested positive because of “contamination” from her grandfather’s medicine.

The New York Times report said the grandfather provided a pre-recorded video message to a hearing with Russian anti-doping officials on February 9 in which he said he used trimetazidine.

Valieva’s mother told the same hearing her daughter took Hypoxen for heart “variations”, the Times said.

Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA suspended the young skater after the February 9 hearing, only for her to win an appeal. CAS then agreed that she should be able to carry on at the Olympics, citing “exceptional circumstances” including her age.

– ‘Not fair’ –

Valieva has already won one gold in Beijing, playing a starring role to lead Russia to team gold last week, before the doping controversy erupted.

The medals ceremony for that will not take place in Beijing because of the saga. Likewise, if Valieva comes in the top three after Thursday’s second half of the singles competition there will also be no ceremony — unprecedented in Olympic history.

It puts the spotlight once more on doping by Russian athletes, who are not allowed to take part at these Games under their flag because of a state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at its home 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Some of Valieva’s fellow skaters made plain their unhappiness that they had to compete against her.

“I don’t know every detail of the case, but from the big picture obviously a doping athlete competing against clean athletes is not fair,” the 16-year-old American skater Alysa Liu said.

There was also sympathy.

Alexia Paganini, competing for Switzerland, said: “I definitely feel sorry for her. She is pretty much a product of the adults around her.”

But she added: “Rules are rules and they should be followed.”

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said: “She is at the centre of a lot speculation and it must be very tough for her.”

– Strolz in pole –

Austria’s Johannes Strolz meanwhile sat in pole position of the men’s slalom after topping times for the first leg. The decisive second leg is scheduled for 1:45pm (0545 GMT).

Alexander Hall of the United States won the men’s freeski slopestyle gold, taking the title ahead of countryman Nick Goepper.

Other golds up for grabs on Wednesday were in women’s biathlon relay, another in freestyle skiing and two each in cross-country and short track speed skating.

After Wednesday’s early action, Norway top the medals table with 12 golds, ahead of Germany on nine and the United States on eight.

The Games end on Sunday/

Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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