BEIJING, China (NewsNation Now) — Lawyers for Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who underwent a doping hearing this Sunday after testing positive for a banned drug, say it all happened because of a mix-up with her grandfather’s medication.
Despite the fallout from the doping scandal, Valieva on Tuesday still took the lead in the individual short program, meaning she qualified for the free skate to decide medals for single competitors on Thursday.
Valieva, a standout in this year’s Winter Games and the overwhelming favorite to win the gold medal, tested positive for trimetazidine, which typically used for preventing chest pains and treating vertigo, though it can also be used by athletes to improve their endurance and blood flow.
It is unclear whether Valieva has any heart conditions.
While Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine on Dec. 25, during the Russian Nationals, the results from a Swedish lab weren’t revealed until a week ago. By then, Russia had already won gold in the team figure skating event, though after the positive test was brought to light, the team event medal ceremony was pulled from the schedule. America had gotten second place, meaning if Valieva and Russia are disqualified, Team USA would get the gold.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport is still allowing Valieva to compete in the women’s individual figure skating competition, though if she finishes in the top three, there will not be a medal ceremony. This decision to clear her to compete came partly because at 15, Valieva is a minor and subject to different rules as an adult athlete. However, the International Olympic Committee is concerned Valieva could still be banned after a full investigation of her doping case.
Veteran International Olympic Committee member Denis Oswald said lawyers for Valieva “brought some doubts” about the skating star’s guilt.
“Her argument was this contamination which happened with a product her grandfather was taking,” Oswald, a Swiss lawyer who prosecuted previous Russian doping cases, told reporters.
Valieva’s coaches have also come out recently to say she is innocent. The World Anti-Doping Agency announced this week it is investigating her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, and other members of Valieva’s entourage.
Speaking to Russian state broadcaster Channel one, Valieva said the past few days have been difficult.
“I’m happy but I’m tired emotionally,” she said.