Kamila Valieva’s lawyers say the Russian skater failed a doping test before the Olympics because of contamination from her grandfather’s medication.
They “brought some doubts about her guilt,” veteran IOC member Denis Oswald said of the lawyers Tuesday, with their possible explanation of accidental rather than deliberate doping with the heart medication trimetazidine.
Oswald, a veteran sports lawyer who investigated doping scandal cases in the 2014 Sochi Olympics for the IOC, specifically referenced that part of the 15-year-old’s defense is “contamination which happened with a product her grandfather was taking.”
The argument was made at a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing late Sunday night. The CAS judges ruled Monday that Valieva can compete in the women’s individual event despite testing positive for a banned heart medication.
Although she can skate, the investigation will continue for months, and she may be stripped of medals later. She helped the Russian team win gold last week and is the favorite in the women’s event starting Tuesday.
Valieva and her entourage will be investigated by the Russian anti-doping agency after the Olympics. Even if the Russian investigation clears her, the ruling will likely be appealed.
The CAS panel cited several reasons for allowing her to skate, including her status as a minor, the potential harm to her career and the delay in informing Russia about the positive test, from a sample taken on Dec. 25.
Valieva, who practiced in both of her allotted sessions Monday, told Russian state broadcaster Channel One in comments shown that night: “These days have been very difficult for me. I’m happy but I’m tired emotionally.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport already had said Valieva testified during its lengthy hearing, which ended at about 3 a.m. Monday. Valieva said she watched the entire hearing by video link from the Olympic Village.
“I sat there for seven hours, we had one 20-minute break, and I sat there and watched. It was very difficult, but it is apparently one of the moments, of the phases, that I have to go through,” Valieva said, adding that the entire process had taught her that adult life “can be unfair to some extent.”
Even if she wins another medal, the International Olympic Committee announced no medals will be handed out in events that Valieva places in until after the full investigation.