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Kamila Valiyeva doping case decision expected by end of January

Kamila Valieva

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 17: Kamila Valieva of Team ROC skates during the Women Single Skating Free Skating on day thirteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 17, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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A decision on Russian figure skater Kamila Valiyeva’s case over a Christmas 2021 positive drug test — and the fate of the 2022 Olympic team event medals — is expected by the end of January.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing on Valiyeva’s case ended Friday with “final pleadings” from involved parties, according to a press release.

A CAS panel will now deliberate and make its decision, expected by the end of January.

A CAS verdict is usually final and binding with the exception of the right to appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on very limited procedural grounds.

Awaiting the outcome are nine American skaters who could become Olympic champions in the team event after finishing second at the 2022 Winter Games behind Valiyeva and the Russians.

Valiyeva, then 15, was the world’s top women’s singles skater going into the Olympics.

After helping a team of Russian skaters win the team event, news surfaced that she tested positive for a banned heart medication from a sample taken more than a month earlier.

The medal ceremony for the team event was postponed indefinitely. The medals still have not been awarded and will not be until Valiyeva’s case is adjudicated. The U.S. originally placed second and could be upgraded to gold if Valiyeva’s Olympic results are disqualified.

After the positive test surfaced, Valiyeva was allowed to compete in the individual event after a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) disciplinary committee lifted her suspension upon appeal by the skater.

The committee cited, among other reasons, a “low” amount of the banned substance in Valiyeva’s sample, that she tested negative before and after the Dec. 25 test and that, as an athlete under the age of 16, she had less of a burden of proof.

Anti-doping rules have a provision that athletes under the age of 16 may face lesser punishments for doping violations than those 16 and over, including a reprimand rather than a suspension.

The International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Skating Union (ISU) then appealed RUSADA’s lifting of the suspension to CAS, which ruled that Valiyeva could compete in the Olympics while her case was still being adjudicated.

Valiyeva topped the Olympic short program, then struggled in the free skate and finished fourth overall.

The CAS panel largely based that Olympic decision on an “untenable delay” in Valiyeva’s sample test results being processed through a Stockholm lab, which led to a short time frame to rule on her Olympic eligibility during the Games. “This case was not about the underlying alleged anti-doping rule violation and the panel takes no position on that,” it stated in February 2022.

Then this past January, a RUSADA tribunal said Valiyeva bore “no fault or negligence” for her positive drug test.

WADA and the ISU appealed to CAS, which began its hearing in September.

WADA seeks a four-year ban, plus disqualifying her 2022 Olympic results. The ISU wants “a period of ineligibility at CAS’s own discretion,” backdated to Christmas 2021 and including the disqualification of results during the period.

All Russian figure skaters have been banned from international competition since shortly after the 2022 Olympics due to the invasion of Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.