This is the business of these Winter Olympics. The star of this fortnight, the Russian skater Kamila Valieva, finds herself at the heart of a doping scandal. The very young age of the athlete – 15 years old – like the opacity and the different versions presented make the follow-up to the case particularly troubling. Do you get lost there? Do not panic, we rewind the thread of the key stages.
December 25: the calm of the Russian Championships before the storm
Kamila Valieva was originally a Russian figure skating prodigy. Her fifteen years are in no way an obstacle: she is destined to shine at the Beijing Olympics. At the end of 2021, she is competing in the Russian Championships in Saint Petersburg. She does not know it yet, but this altogether banal appointment in the daily life of a champion will mark her Olympic fortnight. Because on this occasion, Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a substance used to relieve angina pectoris.
February 7: the Valieva pearl dazzles the planet
The Olympic adventure begins on February 7, during the team free programme. Far from suspicion, the young Russian prodigy, involved in her very first Games, achieved a real feat. No one had ever performed a quadruple jump during an Olympic event? Never mind, Kamila Valieva signs her entry into the history of the Games by achieving the feat twice. Yes, but there is a wolf: despite his prowess, no podium has been erected. Quiet at first, the IOC evokes, two days later, “a legal problem”. Without revealing more details…
February 11: his positive control revealed
This time, the masks fall. The open secret put forward by some Russian press titles is confirmed by the ITA, the body in charge of doping controls. Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine in late December, but her young age made one “protected person”. Confidentiality around its control is, according to the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), guaranteed.
The case is then sent to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which promises to render a verdict before February 15, the date of the women’s individual competitions. Meanwhile, the Russian Olympic Committee defends its athlete, who is continuing to train, and claims to have “serious questions” as to the nature of the control. Even the Kremlin, through the voice of its spokesperson, is getting involved.
February 14: the CAS gives the green light
Three days later, the CAS gives its verdict: Valieva is authorized to compete in the individual competition. The lifting of the provisional suspension issued by the Russian agency is therefore confirmed. But as politics and diplomacy are never very far from Olympism, international reactions are not long in coming: the Russian Olympic Committee welcomes this decision, when its American alter-ego says “disappointed”.
What about the medals won by the Russians a week ago? Despite this CAS decision, the IOC kicks – again – into touch and judges “inappropriate” to organize the ceremonies without knowing the end of the story. Clearly, if Valieva wins a medal, no podium will be celebrated. No offense to the other two potential medalists…
February 17: the harder the fall
The problem is that Valieva does not hear it that way. On cloud nine, the Russian skater never ceases to impress and finishes in the lead after the short program, Tuesday, February 15. Suspicions continue to hover? She is content to splash on the Beijing ice rink of her class. For a time only. Because Valieva ends up, two days later, by cracking: several falls or clumsiness ruin her chances of a medal. The skater finished fourth, excluded from a podium on which however appear two of her compatriots.