Winter Olympics: Kamila Valieva’s entourage under scrutiny as IOC asks Wada to investigate

Hosts: Beijing, China Dates: 4-20 February
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Scrutiny of those around Kamila Valieva has increased with the International Olympic Committee formally asking the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate the adults working with the teenager.

The 15-year-old Russian’s failed drugs test has cast a dark cloud over the Beijing Winter Olympics, with her age prompting questions over how a child became embroiled in a doping scandal.

The IOC had said on Saturday it would welcome an investigation into her entourage but has now gone further and formally called for one.

“This is a constantly moving target, and we are continuing to work on this,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a news conference .

“We have an entourage commission… we want Wada to investigate the entourage in this case. A whole range of things have been done. Our response continues to improve and address entourage issues.”

Valieva, meanwhile, was training in Beijing on Sunday, hours before a hearing that will determine her Olympic fate.

The Russian, who failed a drugs test in December, will hear on Monday if she can compete in the individual women’s event in Beijing on Tuesday and if she is being stripped of team gold.

A hearing is set for Sunday at 12:30 GMT and a Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) panel will then decide whether to suspend her.

Remember ‘human side of story’

valieva
Kamila Valieva’s training has been watched by soft toys as well as global media

Valieva has continued to train amid the uncertainty and media attention, sometimes looking tearful.

The soft toys at the rink are a reminder of her tender age and the reason why this case has been even more shocking than other failed drugs tests.

Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said it was important to remember the “human side of this story… to think about a person of 15 in this situation”.

“We need to treat this situation extremely carefully.”

At times in practice Valieva has been embraced by her coach Eteri Tutberidze, who herself is under the spotlight.

In a brief interview with Russian state television, Tutberidze said she was certain the teenager was “clean and innocent”.

The IOC said on Saturday that when it came to considering entourage, that included coaches, doctors and parents.

Valieva’s future in hands of three-person panel

The IOC says the Cas hearing will only be about the lifting of Valieva’s provisional suspension, which was imposed by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada).

The full case will be heard by Rusada because the drug test was at a national competition, but Wada can appeal against any decision.

Valieva returned a positive test for the banned substance trimetazidine at the Russian Figure Skating Championships on 25 December.

But it was only reported on 8 February, the day after she became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump at an Olympics to help the Russian Olympic Committee team win gold.

When the issue came to light, the medal ceremony was postponed at short notice.

The medals for the team event – in which the United States finished second, Japan third and Canada fourth – will not be awarded until the outcome of the hearing.

Trimetazidine is used in the prevention of angina attacks but is on the banned list because it is classed as a cardiac metabolic modulator and has been proven to improve physical efficiency.

Valieva has been allowed to train after a successful challenge against her provisional suspension by Rusada.

She is the favourite to win and was flawless in training on Sunday, landing her quadruple jumps.

But the IOC, Wada and the International Skating Union (ISU) have now appealed to Cas against Rusada’s decision to allow her to continue.

The Cas panel will consist of president Fabio Iudica of Italy and arbitrators Jeffrey Benz, of the United States, and Slovenian Vesna Bergant Rakocevic.

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