Russian figure skater facing doping allegations skates into first place after Olympic short program

Kamila Valieva figure skating
Posted at 10:47 AM, Feb 15, 2022

Kamila Valieva has topped the leaderboard at the end of the short program in women's individual single skating. The 15-year-old Russian at the center of the latest Olympic doping controversy is primed to succeed in her pursuit of another gold medal.

Her score of 82.16 points put her in first place in the field of 30. Valieva's fellow Russian Anna Shcherbakova was in second, and Japan's Kaori Sakamoto edged out another Russian for third.

Twenty-five skaters are moving on to Thursday's free skate round. It would have been 24, but the qualification rule was changed to advance one more person if Valieva made it to the next round.

Valieva tested positive in December for a banned heart medication, though the result only emerged last week, after her two brilliant performances in the team competition helped win gold for the Russian team.

According to USA Today, Valieva said Tuesday that the banned substance, trimetazidine, was an ingredient in her grandfather's heart medication. Her attorney claims the substance may have entered Valieva's system by drinking from a communal glass, or through a similar method.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled early Monday that Valieva should be allowed to compete in part because she is a minor, known as a "protected person," and is subject to different rules from an adult athlete.

The Olympics will not hold a medal ceremony for the team figure skating competition. There will be no medal ceremony for the individual competition should Valieva finish on the podium.

The decision from a three-person panel has been roundly criticized, including by others that performed before her Tuesday night.

Russia is currently serving a punishment connected to a widespread doping state-sponsored doping scandal during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russian athletes cannot compete under their country name and flag at the Beijing games. Instead, they're being referred to as the "Russian Olympic Committee."

The IOC has been criticized for not doling out harsher punishment to Russia following the 2014 doping scandal.