Russian skater Kamila Valieva, whose positive test for a banned substance had splashed the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, was sentenced on Monday January 29 to a four-year suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). His sanction is effective from December 25, 2021, the date of the sample taken by the Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada).

The young prodigy, now 17, was initially exempted from sanction by Rusada on the grounds that she had committed “no fault or negligence”. She is retroactively disqualified for this entire period, added the CAS, the supreme court in the sporting world.

The teenager did not contest her positive test at the end of 2021 for trimetazidine, a substance supposed to improve blood circulation, banned since 2014 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and detected in tiny quantities in her body. But Valieva, then aged 15, had cited “contamination [through] cutlery” shared with her grandfather, treated with trimetazidine after the insertion of an artificial heart, and which led her every day to the ‘training.

The CAS, at the end of a closed hearing initiated in September 2023 and resumed in November, nevertheless considered that Kamila Valieva “had not been able to establish”, with sufficiently convincing evidence, that she did not had not “intentionally” doped.

“A criminal offense.”

The reaction of the Russian authorities was quick, criticizing “a political decision”, according to Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies.

The World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the suspension of the young Russian skater. “Doctors, coaches or other support staff who are found guilty of providing performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full severity of the World Anti-Doping Code,” WADA said in a statement. The organization therefore encourages “governments to consider adopting legislation – as some have already done – making underage doping a criminal offense.”

The affair, which caused a scandal in the middle of the Beijing Olympics, is however not over. Kamila Valieva still has the possibility of applying to the Swiss federal court within thirty days, only for limited legal reasons. Above all, the CAS did not decide the consequences of her retroactive disqualification, while Valieva had time to win Olympic gold in the team event with the Russians before her positive test was revealed: almost two years later, the medal ceremony has still not been organized.