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WINTER OLYMPICS 2022

Winter Olympics: Global Athlete hits out at Kamila Valieva verdict

Global Athlete has criticised the anti-doping system in the wake of Kamila Valieva's clearance to compete at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Update:
Winter Olympics: Global Athlete hits out at Kamila Valieva verdict
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The clearance of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva to compete at the Winter Olympics has resulted in calls to reform the anti-doping system.

Valieva was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday to compete in Tuesday's individual event – in which she is considered the heavy favourite – despite the teenager's failed drugs test.

The 15-year-old has already helped Russia to team figure skating gold in Beijing.

Valieva tested positive in December for trimetazidine, a medication that prevents angina attacks but is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it aids blood flow to the heart.

Her sample that failed was taken on Christmas Day during Russia's national championships, but Valieva could compete at Beijing 2022 after she appealed against the outcome and RUSADA – Russia's Anti-Doping Agency – removed a provisional suspension on February 9.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Testing Agency (ITA) appealed against that ruling, leading to the CAS decision after a long meeting on Sunday in Beijing.

Now, Global Athlete, "an international athlete-led movement that will inspire and lead positive change in world sport", has called for immediate reform.

Global Athlete statement on Valieva case

"Today is another example of the failures of the global sport and anti-doping system," read a statement published on Global Athlete's official website. 

"The fact that Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian figure skater, has been found to have a performance-enhancing substance in her system is evidence of abuse of a minor. Sport should be protecting its athletes, not damaging them.

"Doping and the trauma of a positive test pose grave physical and psychological risks to all athletes but especially to minors. It is unacceptable that these risks have been placed on a 15-year-old.

"This power imbalance can only be resolved through an equal partnership between athletes and sporting administrators. Athletes must have independent professional representation and the ability to collectively bargain."

Global Athlete went on to criticise WADA, the IOC and CAS for not taking harsher action on Russia in the wake of the doping scandal that resulted in an initial four-year ban for the nation from competing in any global events, including the Olympics and World Cup.

However, upon appeal from RUSADA, CAS allowed Russians to compete under the provision that they must do so as neutral athletes. As such, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has been represented in Beijing as it was in Tokyo last year.

Global Athlete's statement continued: "It is blatantly clear that Valieva would have never been placed in this position if WADA, the IOC, and CAS had done their jobs and banned Russia from global sport.

"Russia has never been incentivised to reform because sport leaders favoured politics over principle and rebranding over banning.

"Athletes have lost confidence in the global anti-doping system. Calls for reform of WADA have been persistent and loud, but they have been continually cast aside and ignored by those seeking to maintain centralised unaccountable power.

"Sport administrators fear a robust, fully independent, and effective anti-doping system precisely because such a system would hold the perpetrators of institutional doping accountable.

"The doping of Kamila Valieva must be a wake-up call for every fan, parent, and athlete to stand together to demand reform. The doping of minor athletes must be stopped. Any country that systematically dopes its athletes cannot be allowed to participate in international sport. The status quo is no longer acceptable."

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