Russian tribunal finds skater Valieva bore 'no fault or negligence' in doping case

A Russian tribunal found figure skater Kamila Valieva bore "no fault or negligence" in a doping case that rocked last year's Winter Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday.

World Anti-Doping Agency to review case before deciding on next steps

A girl in a white Olympic zip-up cried into her coach's arms.
Russian Kamila Valieva reacts after the free skate at the Beijing Olympics. A Russian tribunal said Friday the now-16-year-old bore "no fault or negligence" over the positive doping test that derailed her Olympics. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

A Russian tribunal found figure skater Kamila Valieva bore "no fault or negligence" in a doping case that rocked last year's Winter Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Friday.

The Russian skater won Olympic gold in the team competition in February before it was announced that a sample she gave two months before tested positive for a banned substance. The result was reported later because the laboratory which tested the sample was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

WADA was "concerned" that a Russian anti-doping agency panel ruled Valieva should be disqualified from only one day of the 2021 Russian championships, where the sample was taken.

"The tribunal found that although the athlete had committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation, she bore 'no fault or negligence' for it. As such, the tribunal imposed no sanction except for the disqualification of her results on the date of the sample collection," WADA said in the statement.

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WADA said it would review the ruling in full before deciding on further steps. WADA previously complained Russia was taking too long to reach a decision in Valieva's case and sought to have it moved to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"Based on the elements of the case with which WADA is already familiar, the agency is concerned by the finding of 'no fault or negligence' and will not hesitate to exercise its right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, as appropriate," WADA said.

When WADA made its earlier filing about Russia's slow processing of the case, the court said WADA indicated it would push for a four-year ban.

The Russian agency, known as RUSADA, has not published the verdict. It has previously said it would not publish any findings related to the case because Valieva was only 15 at the time she tested positive.

RUSADA chief executive Veronika Loginova told Russian state news agency Tass that her agency could also consider an appeal against its own tribunal's verdict. RUSADA has received only a short-form ruling containing the verdict and is still waiting for the full ruling, she added.

Canada could be bumped to bronze

Depending on the eventual result of any appeal, the case could result in Canada being bumped from fourth place to bronze in the team event, while the United States could be upgraded from silver to gold.

No medal ceremony has ever been held for the competition because of the turmoil caused by Valieva's case, and U.S. skaters have said they are frustrated by the delays.

CAS typically takes months to process cases. A previous CAS panel of judges allowed Valieva to compete in the women's individual event at the Beijing Games even under suspicion of doping, in part because of her age. She placed fourth in the women's competition as another Russian, Anna Shcherbakova, won the gold.

Friday's announcement by WADA is unlikely to have a major effect on the figure skating season. Skaters from Russia and its ally Belarus remain suspended from international competitions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Valieva has been skating in Russian domestic events this season while the case was processed.

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