Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva can compete in the individual women's skating events at the Beijing Olympics despite her positive pre-Games drug test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Monday. The CAS said it decided against barring Valieva from competition because she is, at 15, a "protected person" under the World Anti-Doping Code, her drug tests in Beijing have been clean, and there are "serious issues of untimely notification" in the results of her Dec. 25 drug test, returned by the Swedish lab on Feb. 8.
"The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympics would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances," CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said. The panel did not rule on the merits of Valieva's case or whether she will get to keep any medals she wins, including the gold won by not yet awarded to the Russian Olympic Committee for the team skating event. Valieva is favored to win the gold in the individual competition.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said it is "disappointed by the message" the CAS ruling sends. "Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field," USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. "Unfortunately today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia."
The Russian Olympic Committee — the banner under which Russian athletes are competing, since Russia itself was banned following a 2014 state-sponsored doping scandal — said before the CAS ruling that it is "taking comprehensive measures to protect the rights and interests of the ROC team members and to keep the Olympic gold medal won in fair competition." If the Russian win is disqualified, Team USA would win the gold in the team competition.
The Russian anti-doping agency will investigate whether Valieva is guilty of doping and whether anyone in her entourage is responsible, and determine if she and the ROC team get to keep their gold. That decision could also be appealed to the CAS.