China Stresses 'Zero-Tolerance' Clean Olympics as Kamila Valieva Doping Case Clouds Games

China stressed its "zero-tolerance" approach to doping on Tuesday as the Winter Olympics moved toward its closing stages under the cloud of legal proceedings involving Russian athlete Kamila Valieva.

Yan Jiarong, the spokesperson for Beijing's organizing committee, told the media that the country was implementing strict doping policies. Meanwhile, the Chinese Olympic team impressed home crowds and observers overseas as it finished what has already been China's best-ever Winter Games.

"We always advocate healthy sports and also have been sticking to the principle of strictly implementing the anti-doping rules. We have a zero-tolerance policy toward doping," Yan said through an interpreter. Nearly two dozen doping stations are operating at the games, as well as additional testing centers to prevent "foodborne doping," she said.

Asked about the Chinese Olympic Committee's stance on doping, given developments surrounding Valieva, Yan said: "Team China will play clean and we win clean medals, and this will sure be a clean Olympics for the Chinese team."

The daily press conference overran by 20 minutes due to the extensive questions about the ROC figure skater, who was cleared to compete in the Chinese capital on Tuesday, despite having tested positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine in a sample taken on December 25. The 15-year-old testified via a video link in the hearing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which began on Sunday and ran into Monday.

According to IOC member Denis Oswald, a veteran sports lawyer who investigated Russia's state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, Valieva's lawyers gave a defense that included a claim of accidental contamination with heart medication taken by the athlete's grandfather.

A panel considered Valieva's young age as well as potential "irreparable harm" to her career in its decision not to suspended her, a CAS statement said. But the investigation is ongoing and will involve adults in her entourage.

American and Japanese athletes who had won silver and bronze in last week's figure skating team event weren't given a medal ceremony. The same will happen this week if Valieva places in the top three. She and teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova are favorites in Thursday's free skating medal event, in which Russia could make Winter Olympics history by accomplishing the first sweep of the podium by any one nation.

Getting the Medal Ceremony Right

At Tuesday's press conference, Oswald said the IOC sympathized with the teams that placed second and third. "But you must understand that it would be very difficult to allocate medals based on a situation which is not final, because there is a fair chance that you would not give the right medal to the right team."

"It's why we decided it's wiser, until we don't have clarity on the case, not to attribute medals," he said. "The decision was difficult to make because we fully understand that it's difficult for the athletes not to have their ceremony, but there will be ways to restore the situation at a later stage." If confirmed as having violated doping rules, Valieva's medal can be withdrawn later, he said.

Oswald concluded: "The damage for them is not irreparable, even if we fully understand that it's not exactly the same if you get your medal at the games or later on. But the IOC decided to make every effort to have a very special ceremony for these teams when we know what kind of medals they will get."

Russian athletes competed at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the ongoing Beijing Games under the banner of the ROC, following a two-year ban introduced by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

China's first Winter Olympics on home turf also have been its most successful. With five days of the competition left to go, its athletes already have six gold, four silver and two bronze medals. The country's first Winter Games were in Lake Placid in 1980.

China Stresses Anti-Doping Stance Amid Valieva Scandal
Kamila Valieva of Russia attends a training session on day 10 of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at the Capital Indoor Stadium practice rink on February 14, 2022, in Beijing, China. On the same day, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Valieva to compete in remaining figure skating events despite an ongoing investigation into alleged doping. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images