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Russian teenager Valieva DQ'd in Olympic doping case

AP PHOTO

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has been disqualified from the 2022 Olympics, almost two years after her doping case caused turmoil at the Beijing Games.

The verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday means Russia will be stripped of the gold medal in figure skating's team event.

The United States, who finished second, Japan (third) and Canada (fourth) are in line to be upgraded to gold, silver and bronze respectively.

The International Olympic Committee decided not to present any medals for the event in Beijing, at which the 15-year-old Valieva was the star performer hours before her positive test for a banned heart medicine was revealed.

The case provoked legal chaos at the Games because Valieva's sample, taken six weeks earlier at the Russian championships, was not notified as a positive test until February 7, 2022.

The laboratory in Sweden responsible for the test said it had been affected by staffing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAS said a panel of three judges upheld appeals led by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which asked the court to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics and ban her.

A Russian sports tribunal had cleared her of any blame, citing that she was a minor.

CAS banned Valieva for four years to December 2025 - about seven weeks before the next Winter Olympics begin in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

WADA had asked CAS to impose a four-year ban and to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics, while the sport's governing body the International Skating Union called for a two-year ban and disqualification.

Valieva's lawyers argued her sample had been contaminated by traces of trimetazidine medication used by her grandfather.

"Having carefully considered all the evidence put before it," the court said in a statement, "the CAS panel concluded that Ms. Valieva was not able to establish, on the balance of probabilities and on the basis of the evidence before the Panel, that she had not committed the (doping violation) intentionally."

The court added that all of Valieva's competitive results achieved since December 25, 2021, would be declared void.

The International Skating Union said it welcomed the ruling.

"WADA took this appeal to CAS in the interests of fairness for athletes and clean sport and we believe that has been delivered through this decision," the agency said.

In comments carried by Russia's RIA news agency, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed Monday's ruling as politically motivated.

The Russian Olympic Committee said in a statement: "In effect war has been declared on Russian sport and, as we can see, no holds are barred".

The committee said the CAS "had long since ceased" to be worthy of being viewed as objective and impartial.

- with Reuters