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Russian skater Kamila Valieva takes 4th in shocking Olympics women’s final

The 15-year-old has been under intense scrutiny after she was allowed to compete following revelations she failed a drug test in December.
/ Source: TODAY

Russian skater Kamila Valieva finished in fourth place in figure skating Thursday during the women's individual event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, a shocking development for the embattled athlete who was once considered a gold medal favorite.

The Russian Olympic Committee star, 15, stumbled or fell multiple times during her free skate and cried after her performance.

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva couldn't hide her emotions after her free skate performance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics..Eloisa Lopez / Reuters

Anna Shcherbakova, the reigning world champion and Valieva’s teammate, won the gold medal, while fellow Russian Alexandra Trusova earned the silver medal. The bronze medal went to Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto. Alysa Liu, the highest-scoring American, finished seventh.

Kamila Valieva
Valieva is consoled by choreographer Daniil Gleikhengauz, right, and coach Eteri Tutberidze.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Valieva has emerged as one of the biggest stories of these Olympics. She tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on Christmas Day during the Russian nationals competition, but those results weren’t disclosed until last week after she helped the ROC win a gold medal.

Trimetazidine can improve stamina in healthy young athletes. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Valieva could still compete, leaving many fans miffed at the decision.

Kamila Valieva
Valieva's performance capped off an Olympics in which she became one of the biggest stories.Bernat Armangue / AP

She has since claimed her test was contaminated by medication her grandfather was taking. Valieva’s failure to medal helped officials avoid what could have been a thorny situation after the International Olympic Committee had said there would be no medal ceremony for any event in which she won either the gold, silver or bronze medal.

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva let her disappointment show after a disappointing performance. Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

“Thank goodness for all the other medalists to have that moment (on the podium),” NBC Olympics figure skating analyst Tara Lipinski said.

“And to have done it cleanly,” her colleague Johnny Weir added.

The controversy has taken a toll on the Russian teen.

“These days have been very difficult for me. I’m happy but I’m tired emotionally,” she told Russian state broadcaster Channel One on Monday.

One of the brightest stars in figure skating, Valieva seemed poised to make these a memorable Olympics for all the right reasons after she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition last week. She did so twice while leading the ROC figure skating team to a gold medal. The United States won the silver medal.

The fate of the gold medal Valieva won is still up in the air. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency will investigate the matter, reports the Associated Press. The World Anti-Doping Agency can appeal any decision that the body makes.