Questions swirl as Russian skater awaits Beijing Olympics doping fate

Q

Snow falls on the competitors in the snowboard mixed team cross quarter-finals on Saturday

Questions grew Saturday over why it took six weeks for Kamila Valieva’s failed drug test to come to light, as the 15-year-old Russian figure skater fights to stay at the Beijing Olympics.

The build-up to the Games was overshadowed by concerns about Covid and human rights in China, and the doping scandal surrounding the prodigious teenager threatens to tarnish the Olympics anew.

Valieva, who played a starring role in helping Russia win team gold in Beijing on Monday, tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine after competing at an event in Saint Petersburg on December 25.

In an interview with AFP, United States Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart questioned the delay.

“It shouldn’t have happened.”

Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA said it had been informed that a sharp rise of Covid-19 infections at the start of the year was to blame for the delay.

“I had understood — but I would like to get this confirmed — that there was some issues around Covid, but I don’t know about the exact delivery of the testing and the delivery of the sample,” he said on Saturday, as the doping scandal simmered.

“The timings of sample processing raise serious questions,” Pozdnyakov told the RIA Novosti news agency, suggesting the result had been deliberately released to coincide with the Olympics.

– No Russian flag –

Russian competitors are allowed to take part in  Beijing as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) if they have been able to prove they were not tainted by the massive state-sponsored doping programme that targeted a range of summer and winter Olympics sports over a four-year period.

In Beijing, the ROC team cannot have the Russian flag on its clothing and the Russian anthem is not used.

Snow fell on the outer mountainous areas of Beijing on Saturday, with more forecast over the weekend.

pst/gj

Originally published as Questions swirl as Russian skater awaits Beijing Olympics doping fate


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