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Russian skater Kamila Valieva blames grandfather’s medication for failed drug test

The skater tested positive for a banned substance on Dec. 25, several weeks before the Olympics began.
/ Source: TODAY

Russian skater Kamila Valieva says she failed a drug test before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics because it was contaminated by medication her grandfather was taking, an Olympic official said.

The 15-year-old Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on Christmas Day during the Russian nationals competition, but the results weren’t known until last week after she led the Russian Olympic Committee to a gold medal.

“Her argument was this contamination happened with a product her grandfather was taking,” Denis Oswald, chair of the International Olympic Committee disciplinary commission, told reporters Tuesday.

Kamila Valieva has a training session at the
ROC figure skater Kamila Valieva practices at the Capital Indoor Stadium as part of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Sergei Bobylev / TASS via Getty Images

“She presented elements which brought some doubts about her guilt, and also she was in a very special situation that the Olympic Games take place every four years, and if she would miss the competition at this Games, the damage could not be repaired,” Oswald added.

Trimetazidine can improve stamina in healthy young athletes.

“The drug can help by improving the efficiency of the heart in being able to deliver blood flow more effectively,” Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine, told TODAY.

Valieva’s case was heard Sunday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Judges ruled Valieva would be allowed to compete, despite the fact she had tested positive for a banned substance. Even though she was given the green light to skate, an investigation into the matter will go on for months, with the possibility that she may lose any medals she won.

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

Valieva made headlines last week when she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition, pulling off the feat twice, en route to the ROC winning the figure skating team gold medal. The United States won the silver medal.

Her case has thrown a wrench into the Olympic skating competition. The IOC has said there will be no medal ceremony for any event in which Valieva finishes in the top three.

The CAS ruling to let Valieva compete came, in part, because she is a minor who is  subject to different rules than an adult athlete.

“The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said.

Kamila Valieva has a training session at the
Valieva claims her failed drug test was contaminated by medication her grandfather was taking.Sergei Bobylev / TASS via Getty Images

Valieva's case has generated renewed scrutiny into Russian doping, which has been a recurring issue at the Olympics.

“This appears to be another chapter in the systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” US Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.

Women’s figure skating started with the short program Tuesday before wrapping up Thursday with the free skate.