Outrage as Kamila Valieva Cleared to Compete in Olympics, Despite Positive Drugs Test

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on Monday said it is "disappointed" by the decision to allow Russian teenager Kamila Valieva to compete in the women's figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics following an earlier positive doping test.

The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) ruled on Monday to have the 15-year-old's suspension reinstated, rejecting appeals by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Skating Union (ISU).

It was confirmed on February 7 that Valieva tested positive for banned heart medication, trimetazidine, that can increase blood flow efficiency and help endurance. A sample taken from a December 25 urine sample showed she had tested positive, and she was provisionally suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

The USOPC said in a statement that it was "disappointed by the message this decision sends."

"It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sports and to hold our athletes, coaches and all involved to the highest of standards," USOPC Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland said.

"Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sports by Russia.

"We know this case is not yet closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world."

CAS said preventing Valieva from competing would have caused the teenager "irreparable harm in the circumstances."

"The athlete should benefit from the following exceptional circumstances: She is under 16 and a protected person under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code," the court's Director General Matthieu Reeb said in a statement early on Monday morning.

The CAS panel which made the decision to allow the teenager to compete also noted that she hadn't tested positive in Beijing, and that there were "serious issues of untimely notification" of her December 2021 positive doping test.

The decision was met with widespread criticism, including from former Olympic athletes.

"I can't condone the decision," American figure skater and two-time Olympian Johnny Weir said in a tweet. "There was a positive drug test, therefore the athlete who tested positive, at fault or not, regardless of age or timing of test/result, should not be allowed to compete against clean athletes."

Retired American figure skater Sean Rabbitt said the decision marked "a sad day for my sport."

"I'm disappointed, I'm sad for the athletes who have been banned for less serious violations," he said on Twitter.

American former figure skater Tara Lipinski, who won gold at the age of 15 while representing the U.S. in Nagano in 1998, condemned the ruling.

"I strongly disagree with this decision. At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete," she said. "Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport."

Valieva took to the ice to practice shortly after she was cleared to compete. The figure skater is set to compete in a short program on Tuesday for the women's singles.

Update 2/14/22, 3:15 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.

Kamila Valieva of Team ROC
Kamila Valieva of Team ROC reacts during the Women Single Skating Free Skating Team Event on day three of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 07, 2022 in Beijing, China. A U.S. Olympics committee said it is “disappointed” by the decision to allow Valieva to compete in the women’s figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics following an earlier positive doping test. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images