A 15-year-old Russian superstar already considered by many to be the best figure skater ever, even though she has yet to win a world championship or Olympic title, has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance.
What are the details?
Kamila Valieva returned a positive test for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, prior to the start of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, according to the Russian newspaper RBC, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Trimetazidine, which reportedly helps prevent heart attacks and treats vertigo, is included on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances because it can help endurance and increase blood flow efficiency.
The troubling sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship in Estonia last month. During that competition, the teenager delivered an elite performance that solidified her status as the leader of Russia’s “quad squad” of women’s figure skaters.
At the Beijing Games, Valieva was expected to win her nation a third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating, and she had already contributed to a gold medal run for the Russian Olympic Committee in the Olympic figure skating team event.
The medal ceremony for the team event, however, was postponed by the International Olympic Committee this week as reports surfaced about her potential violation.
Valieva’s positive test is the latest in a string of violations committed by Russian athletes. The country’s widespread performance-enhancing drug operation at the 2014 Winter Olympics resulted in the country being banned from the past three Olympic Games.
But a contingent of Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the Russian Olympic Committee banner, though technically unaffiliated with their home country.
Despite her positive test, Valieva was seen going through her normal practice routines Thursday in preparation for forthcoming events. Such events include the individual competition, starting Tuesday, for which she is the overwhelming favorite.
Russian figure skating authorities, too, seemed defiant in the face of allegations.
“She is not suspended,” Russian figure skating federation spokeswoman Olga Ermolina said, offering no further details, according to the AP.
The International Skating Union, the sport’s governing body, also refused to go into detail, stating only that it “cannot disclose any information about any possible anti-doping rule violation.”
Something that could work in Russia and Valieva’s favor is her young age. At 15, she is considered a “Protected Person” by the World Anti-Doping Agency, a status that could prevent her from being punished for her failed drug test.
Only a young teenager, Valieva is considered by many to be the best to ever compete in the sport.
She already holds nine world records, including a combined world record score of 272.71 from a grand prix event last November, Yahoo News reported. The outlet noted that no other woman has ever come close to that score. In second is Russia’s Alena Kostornaia with 247.59.
Valieva has won every event she has ever competed in and is capable of doing three separate quad jumps in her routines, something other skaters only dream of, as most cannot land even one.
Yet time will tell if her prowess has been due, in part, to performance enhancers and whether her legacy will be tainted by scandal.
15-year-old Kamila Valieva sets TWO world records in stunning free skate | NBC Sports