Winter Olympics: US fume, accuse Russia of ‘hijacking’ Beijing Games over Kamila Valieva

Samantha RogersNews Corp Australia
The United States Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of ‘hijacking’ the 2022 Olympics following the decision to allow teenage skater Kamila Valieva to continue to compete despite a positive drugs case.
Camera IconThe United States Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of ‘hijacking’ the 2022 Olympics following the decision to allow teenage skater Kamila Valieva to continue to compete despite a positive drugs case. Credit: Bernat Armangue/AP

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused Russia of “hijacking” the Beijing Olympics on Monday following the decision to allow teenage skater Kamila Valieva to continue to compete despite a positive drugs case.

In a statement following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling which allows Valieva to take part in individual events in Beijing, USADA expressed sympathy for the athlete at the centre of the controversy.

Chief executive Travis Tygart said “only time will tell” if Valieva should have been allowed to compete in Beijing after testing positive for the endurance-boosting angina medication trimetazidine.

But Tygart said if Valieva was later disqualified, the CAS ruling will “once again permit the Russians to taint the Olympic Games.”

“Either way, for the sixth consecutive Olympic Games, Russia has hijacked the competition and stolen the moment from clean athletes and the public,” Tygart said.

“If Russia would have properly processed this sample which they collected weeks prior to the Olympic Games, we would know for certain whether the women’s individual event starting tomorrow will be a real competition and whether she should have been allowed to skate in the Figure Skating Team Event.”

The Valieva case has hinged on the delay between her sample — provided at a competition in Russia on December 25 — and its analysis, which was only carried out six weeks later.

Kamila Valieva.
Camera IconKamila Valieva. Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Normally drug tests involving athletes preparing to compete in major championships would be expedited by the national anti-doping authority of the country involved.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency said the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) made no request to accelerate testing of Valieva’s sample.

“If Russia had followed the rules, we would know for certain the outcome of the Figure Skating Team Event and those athletes who gave it their all could have their podium moment during these Games as they rightfully deserve,” Tygart added.

Meanwhile, US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson slammed the decision to allow Valieva to continue to compete, contrasting the case with her own doping suspension from the Tokyo Games last year.

Sha'Carri Richardson.
Camera IconSha'Carri Richardson. Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Richardson was barred from competing at the Olympics after testing positive for marijuana during the US track and field trials in Eugene, where she won the 100 metres.

The 21-year-old Texan was subsequently suspended for 30 days, making her ineligible to participate in Japan where she had been tipped as a medal contender.

And the CAS ruling on Valieva failed to impress Richardson.

Responding on Twitter to a column in USA Today which described the Valieva decision as a “slap in the face” for clean athletes, Richardson wrote: “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?

“My mother died and I can’t run and was also favoured to place top 3. “The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.” Richardson admitted using marijuana after her positive test last year, saying she took the drug after learning of her mother’s death.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency enforced her suspension while acknowledging her case was “heartbreaking on many levels.” Richardson on Monday also noted that marijuana was “definitely not a performance enhancer!!!”.

Kamila Valieva.
Camera IconKamila Valieva. Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

She also took aim at the fact that Valieva’s sample was provided in December but not tested until February.

“Failed in December and the world just now know however my resulted was posted within a week and my name & talent was slaughtered to the people,” Richardson wrote.

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