Russian Skater Kamila Valieva Reportedly Took Three Drugs—Here's What to Know About Them

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who helped claim a gold medal for the Russian Olympic Committee in an Olympic figure skating event last week, has continued to perform amid an ongoing doping controversy.

The 15-year-old, who on Tuesday finished first in the women's individual skating event, has hit headlines after testing positive for the substance trimetazidine, which is banned for athletes under the World Anti-Doping Code.

According to the International Testing Agency (ITA), a sample was taken from Valieva on December 25, 2021, and the results were returned on February 8, after she had competed in the women's team event.

Valieva was immediately suspended from any further sporting competitions by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), but the athlete successfully challenged this and was allowed to compete in this week's event on Tuesday. Officials are looking into whether the case could have been one of accidental contamination with medicine her grandfather was taking.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that two other heart-related medications were also present in the skater's sample—however, these were not on the list of banned substances.

Citing a document filed in the athlete's arbitration hearing, The New York Times reported that the two other medications were hypoxen and L-carnitine. Valieva had reportedly listed them on a doping control form.

What are trimetazidine, L-carnitine and hypoxen?

Trimetazidine, also known as TMZ, is a substance available in Europe for patients with angina, a condition which causes chest pain due to lack of blood flow to the heart.

Eugene DePasquale, a cardiologist with Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, told NPR that TMZ may provide a performance boost for some athletes.

"If you increase the blood flow to the heart, you could potentially increase the performance of the heart, which may in turn enhance the performance of an athlete," DePasquale said. The cardiologist said that it is unclear whether this is true in practice and that there are potential side-effects such as dizziness that may actually hinder performance.

According to Russian pharmaceutical company JSC Valenta Pharm, hypoxen is a medication that "promotes greater efficiency in the use of oxygen by cells in energy reactions" and may help "to reduce fatigue after physical activity."

L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative that is sometimes taken as a supplement. According to Healthline, it plays a role in energy production by transporting fatty acids to the mitochondria inside cells, creating usable energy, and may also improve exercise recovery. More studies on its safety are needed, according to the website.

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva seen during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, on February 7th, 2022. Valieva has been at the center of a dispute over a banned substance. Jean Catuffe/Getty