Kamila Valieva leads individual competition following short program

(Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

Kamila Valieva took first in the women’s short program on Tuesday, following days of international controversy over her participation. Valieva was permitted to compete after testing positive for a banned substance in December.

Despite a stumble on the landing of her triple axel, Valieva skated a clean program and wound up with a score of 82.16, putting her in the top spot entering the free skate on Thursday.

The decision to allow Valieva to compete has been met with outrage. Some of those skating on Tuesday also spoke about their feelings following their own performances. Valieva did not take questions from reporters after leaving the ice.

“It’s obviously a very touchy subject,” said American Mariah Bell, who is in 11th following her skate and fell during her routine. “I can only speak for myself, but I advocate for clean sport. I think that is the whole idea of the Olympics and our careers in general. I know for me, I can come here in the midst of all of this, but I am really proud of my career.”

Bell’s coach Adam Rippon was adamant that Valieva should not be allowed to compete and should in fact be sent home from the games.

Alysa Liu, who leads all American skaters in eighth place, said that while she doesn’t know every detail of the case, “from the big picture, obviously, a doping athlete competing against clean athletes isn’t fair.”

Fellow Russian teammates Anna Scherbakova and Alexandra Trusova are in second and fourth, respectively, with scores of 80.20 and 74.60.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto is in third with a score of 79.84. Her teammate Wakaba Higuchi is in fifth place after becoming just the fifth woman in Olympic history to land a triple axel during her short program.