Kamila Valieva’s Beijing Olympics doping controversy took a fresh twist Wednesday after media reported that the Russian skater had three substances used to treat heart conditions in the sample which triggered the scandal. The 15-year-old figure skater topped the short programme on Tuesday to put herself in prime position to win the women’s singles competition when it concludes on Thursday, bursting into tears afterwards and refusing to talk to journalists. Valieva’s case has overshadowed the Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that she should not be suspended despite failing a drugs test in December, although she has not been cleared of doping and still faces further investigation.
Games testing authorities said last week that the teenager tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can boost endurance.
The New York Times reported that her sample also contained the substances Hypoxen and L-Carnitine. They are not on WADA’s prohibited list.
The report said the disclosures concerning the different substances were contained in a document submitted at the CAS hearing that ended with the controversial decision to allow Valieva to continue competing in Beijing.
Senior IOC member Denis Oswald said Tuesday that Valieva informed the CAS panel that she tested positive because of “contamination” from her grandfather’s medicine.
The New York Times report said the grandfather provided a pre-recorded video message to a hearing with Russian anti-doping officials on February 9 in which he said he used trimetazidine.
Valieva’s mother told the same hearing her daughter took Hypoxen for heart “variations”, the Times said.
– ‘Not fair’ –
Valieva has already won one gold in Beijing, playing a starring role to lead Russia to the team title last week, before the doping controversy erupted.
The medals ceremony for that will not take place in Beijing because of the saga. Likewise, if Valieva finishes in the top three of the singles competition there will also be no ceremony — unprecedented in Olympic history.
It puts the spotlight once more on doping by Russian athletes, who are not allowed to take part at these Games under their flag because of a state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at its home 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Some of Valieva’s fellow skaters made plain their unhappiness that they had to compete against her.
“I don’t know every detail of the case, but from the big picture obviously a doping athlete competing against clean athletes is not fair,” the 16-year-old American skater Alysa Liu said.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams expressed sympathy for Valieva.
“She is at the centre of a lot of speculation and it must be very tough for her,” he said.
Gold for France
Clement Noel claimed France’s first alpine skiing gold medal of these Games when he won the men’s slalom on Wednesday.
Noel was sixth fastest after the first run but his lightning-quick second run gave him a combined total of 1min 44.09sec to hold off Johannes Strolz, the Austrian former traffic policeman who had already won a gold in the alpine combined event.
“That was one of the most important races in my career. It’s not often that you are able to win a medal in the Olympic Games,” said 24-year-old Noel.
“It’s one shot — one minute and 40 seconds every four years.”
In the men’s ice hockey, Slovakia knocked out a weakened USA squad in a shootout at the quarter-final stage.
The pandemic-driven decision by the National Hockey League, the world’s top pro league, to refuse to release its superstars for the Games has deprived the Olympics of a best-on-best competition and left the USA with the youngest squad in Beijing.
Slovakia scored 44sec from time to force overtime and their captain Marek Hrivik got the only goal of the final penalty shootout.
Alexander Hall of the United States won the men’s freeski slopestyle gold, taking the title ahead of countryman Nick Goepper.
Other golds up for grabs on Wednesday were in women’s biathlon relay, another in freestyle skiing and two each in cross-country and short track speed skating.
After Wednesday’s early action, Norway top the medals table with 12 golds, ahead of Germany on nine and the United States on eight.
The Games end on Sunday.
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