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Russian figure skater blames failed drug test on grandfather's medicine

Was a 15-year-old Russian figure skater doping intentionally or was it an accident? Here's the possible explanation her lawyers have offered.

BEIJING, China — Kamila Valieva’s lawyers say the Russian skater failed a doping test before the Olympics because of contamination from medication her grandfather was taking.

Veteran IOC member Denis Oswald told reporters the 15-year-old's lawyers “brought some doubts about her guilt,” with their possible explanation of accidental rather than deliberate doping with the heart medication trimetazidine.

“Her argument was this contamination which happened with a product her grandfather was taking," Oswald, a Swiss lawyer who prosecuted previous Russian doping cases, told reporters.

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.

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.

She told Russian state broadcaster Channel One that she was happy but worn out after the hours-long doping hearing that cleared the way for her to continue competing at the Olympics.

WHAT IS THE DRUG VALIEVA TESTED POSITIVE FOR?

The medication trimetazidine is a metabolic agent that helps prevent angina attacks and treats the symptoms of vertigo, according to the European Union’s medicines agency. It can increase blood flow efficiency and improve endurance — both crucial to any high-end athletic performance.

It is on the prohibited list managed by the World Anti-Doping Agency in the category of “hormone and metabolic modulators.”

Credit: AP
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, trains at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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