“The shadow of the Cold War covered not only international politics, but also the Olympics”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, whose December doping test tested positive for the banned drug trimetazidine, to compete in the individual tournament. The brightest opinions are in the Kommersant selection.

In the last century, the USSR and the GDR fought for medals and awards with the help of state doping. Looks like history is repeating itself, now with a 15-year-old figure skater. In the midst of the 21st century, the shadow of the Cold War has covered not only international politics, but also the Olympic Games as another arena for ideological tug-of-war. In the center this time is a 15-year-old figure skater, who many international observers rank among the greatest talents in the history of this sport. One thing is clear: the situation around Valieva will not end after the CAS decision.

Valieva’s age will also play a role when it comes to sanctions. The Russian is unlikely to face the usual disqualification for two years. Hardly anyone believes that she knowingly drank a heart drug as a dope. But the National Olympic Committee of Russia is again in a precarious situation. With the collapse of the former Eastern Bloc and the creation of WADA, it seemed that the dark ages of drug manipulation were over. That this is a delusion has already been shown by incidents of Russian manipulation in connection with the games in Sochi in 2014.

On the streets of Moscow, they quickly found support for the most famous face in Russian sports at the moment. “Camila, we are with you” – judging by the photos from the Internet, you can often see such a poster there now … What a challenge it is for a 15-year-old girl who got into the center of a doping hurricane in the most important sports arena. And which now will also have to vouch for the obvious abysses in the sports system of huge Russia. After all, we are again talking about the Russian Olympic team, which – no repetition of this absurdity will be too frequent – because of the state doping scandal, performs in Beijing not on behalf of Russia, but on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee. Meldonium is a vitamin? Maybe trimetazidine is also a vitamin – and the new meldonium? Or will another explanation be presented at the CAS hearing?

Der Standard (Vienna, Austria)

Even if the Beijing Winter Olympics had been fun before then, the fun would definitely end there. The doping case of Kamila Valieva reveals several problem areas in Olympic sports at once. Russia, which has been convicted of state doping and its cover-up, is already under special surveillance. And then it turns out that the 15-year-old figure skater in December received a positive test in her homeland – and at the same time, due to the fact that the test results were transmitted too late, she received permission to participate in the competition. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is always cautious and maneuvering about how to deal with Russia. The fact that all this is done at the expense of the child seems to be absolutely secondary. A discussion about what loads and medicines are acceptable and what success can and should be demanded from young athletes is long overdue. But the IOC doesn’t seem to care.

Le Figaro (Paris, France)

Trimetazidine has nothing to do with the steroid cocktail the Russians used during the Sochi 2014 Olympics scandal, or the EPO seen in endurance events, and generally rarely comes up in the world of sports. In addition, its doping effect remains controversial, given “numerous side effects” – from “troubles with walking” to “hallucinations”.

Russia was banned at the end of 2020 from any international CAS competition for two years, but its athletes can compete under a neutral flag as long as they have not been personally penalized for doping. If Valieva’s case turns out to be just an individual anti-doping rule violation, this will have no additional consequences for Russian sports. Otherwise, it will once again undermine his image.

The Independent (London, United Kingdom)

This scandal, which has become one of the darkest days for figure skating and the sport, raises serious questions regarding the well-being of the athlete and the seriousness of Russia’s promises to clean the sport … This country has had almost a decade to fix the doping situation, but it has failed again and again. stands up to scrutiny, and the sanctions applied are hardly proportionate.

This is a sports tragedy from which no one will come out with honor and in which, perhaps, the only innocent party is the one who can still be declared guilty. And all this disgusting action is played out under the close attention of the world media. Enlivened by a kaleidoscope of flashy sequined costumes, figure skating has always had a dark heart. There have been ugly stories at the Olympics before – Tonya and Nancy in Lillehammer and a referee scandal in Salt Lake City linked to Russian organized crime.

But the current case goes beyond those cases, the world is against Russia on the borders of Ukraine and on the virgin ice of Beijing. There will be no winners in either story, there will only be innocent victims. What have we become when victory comes at such a devastating cost!

The Times (London, United Kingdom)

From all this decision there is a sense of temporality. The decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport did not address whether Valieva was guilty of doping, but only whether there should be a temporary suspension. The broader issue of doping will be dealt with later, long after the athletes leave Beijing.

Now that Valieva has been cleared to compete tomorrow and Thursday, she and her ability to compete will be the focus of attention. Before the doping scandal erupted, she was the clear favorite to win the gold medal. Here in Beijing, she has already taken figure skating to unprecedented heights … If she does receive a medal in women’s singles, it is not yet clear whether the medals will be awarded.

The Daily Mail (London, United Kingdom)

Her situation raises troubling questions about whether she was unknowingly a victim of child doping and whether the Russian state continues to aid its athletes with illegal drugs.

Coach Valieva Eteri Tutberidze, known for her cruel methods of training athletes, can receive gold medals in Beijing for five skaters. Trimetazidine is a heart drug that can improve blood circulation and increase endurance, and some Russian athletes have taken it, even though the drug is banned by WADA.

The big question remains, why did the 15-year-old figure skater take a heart drug, if not to illegally improve her performance? Between 2016 and 2018, many Russian athletes applied for exemption to take trimetazidine for “unspecified cardiovascular” problems. But the anti-doping authorities rejected all such applications.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has found itself in a quandary after a team competition in figure skating. He found out that figure skater Kamila Valieva had a positive doping test taken back in December.

In a normal scenario, the Russian Olympic Committee would already have lost its medal. But this has not happened yet. And Valieva would not be allowed to individual competitions. But this decision was not followed. There are rumors that Valieva may not suffer any punishment at all. Obviously, the Russians put pressure on the IOC. Behind the scenes, Vladimir Putin definitely called IOC President Thomas Bach and stood up for his exceptional figure skater. And, instead of making a bold decision that would send a powerful signal, the IOC leaders simply chickened out. And they chose to refer this unpleasant case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

USA Today (McLean, Virginia, USA)

What a black day for the Olympics and the thousands of athletes who play by the rules and don’t cheat by taking performance-enhancing drugs.

She (Kamila Valieva.— “b”) will be the top favorite for gold in the women’s event, which starts on Tuesday and ends on Thursday. She will most likely leave these games with two gold medals – one in the team competition and one in the individual.

What a slap in the face for every athlete who did everything right and did not cheat. Pure sport lost. The victory was won by the Russian doping scheme, supported by the state.

No matter how each of us feels about the Valieva situation, the CAS decision is wrong. If now they have allowed Valieva to compete, why not welcome Ben Jonson, Marion James or Lance Armstrong with open arms? Undoubtedly, Valieva is a pawn in Russia’s nasty system of lies, denials and abuse. But the fact remains that less than two months ago, she tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug. This is the very epitome of deception.

The decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) came as a surprise to many sports lawyers in the West and in Russia. The drug that Valieva tested positive for, trimetazidine, is considered a dubious substance that, under anti-doping rules, can be used to enhance athletic performance, which gave little chance of a successful outcome of the appeal.

The case once again placed Russia at the center of a doping scandal in sports, even though the country is technically ineligible to compete internationally due to a state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

However, this time the focus is on a highly gifted teenager – a case that is likely to change the anti-doping rules for children. Despite such an extraordinary and unexpected result, Valieva will compete in a difficult position – there is no guarantee that any medal she wins will not come under scrutiny.

Prepared by Kirill Sarkhanyants, Alena Miklashevskaya, Evgeny Khvostik, Yana Rozhdestvenskaya


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