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Kamila Valieva cleared to compete, won’t medal until case resolved

(Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva will compete in the women’s individual competition at the Beijing Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favor of the 15-year-old’s doping case on Monday. The ruling upheld the reversal of an initial provisional suspension stemming from a positive test for a banned substance in December.

The positive test for trimetazidine wasn’t reported until after the Olympics began, allowing Valieva to compete and lead the Russian Olympic Committee to gold in the team event. The medal ceremony for the team figure skating competition was delayed, however, after Vaileva’s positive test was reported. Team USA and Japan took home silver and bronze in the event.

The CAS cited Valieva’s age as a key factor in their ruling. At 15, she is considered a “protected person,” according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The arbitrators added that barring Valieva from competition could cause her “irreparable harm.”

The International Olympic Committee announced Monday that, if Valieva were to finish among the top three skaters, medal ceremonies would not be conducted until her case is resolved. The WADA challenged the decision shortly after Monday’s announcement, and an official ruling on Valieva’s case is not expected until well after the Olympics.

Valieva, who took the ice for a practice session 30 minutes after the ruling, is the heavy favorite to win the women’s individual event in Beijing, which begins Tuesday.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland criticized the CAS’ decision in a statement Monday.

“We are disappointed by the message this decision sends,” she said. “This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia.”

Russian athletes are competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics as part of the Russian Olympic Committee after Russia was penalized for a widespread state-sponsored doping scheme ahead of the Sochi Olympics in 2014.