“Suspension follows”: If Valiyewa does not end before EM
The doping scandal surrounding figure skater Kamila Valiewa continues. Not only she is missing at the EM. Russia is not allowed to start because of the Ukraine war. This increases the German chances of winning a medal.
Kamila Valiyeva deleted the gold medal emoji for winning the 2021 Russian Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg on her Instagram account. It is uncertain whether she will ever be able to present such a celebration symbol to her 1.2 million followers again.
Because Russia’s anti-doping agency (Rusada) has stripped the 16-year-old European champion of her national title because of the positive doping test for the banned substance trimetazidine, but she has not been banned. A “guilt or negligence” could not be proven, it said. The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is unlikely to accept the verdict.
“I assume that a ban will follow, even if I feel sorry for the girl,” said Andreas Wagner, President of the German Skating Union. “The fact that the national title was taken away from her seems as if Rusada threw down a chunk to show: we’re doing something.”
Judgment is not pardon
In Russia, too, there is no illusion that the cause could be over. “There is no doubt that the conflict in the case of Kamila Valiyeva will not end after Rusada’s decision,” wrote the Kommersant newspaper. And on the sports portal “championat.com” it said: “Does that mean that Kamila is now completely pardoned and that she can compete without having to fear further penalties? Not at all.”
Former star coach Tatyana Tarasova – always a defender of the young Russian – welcomed the Rusada spell. “There is still justice in the world,” she said. In a survey by the Russian state opinion research institute “Vtsiom”, Valiyeva was even named Sportswoman of the Year 2022.
Positive test result at the Olympics
After examining the Rusada verdict, Wada wants to decide how to proceed. In November, the agency handed the Valiyeva case over to the International Court of Arbitration for Sports Cas because of unreasonable delay – and applied for a four-year ban. The news of the positive test result only became known at the Winter Olympics in Beijing last February, after the then 15-year-old had won Olympic gold with the Russian team ahead of the USA and Japan. A provisional suspension was lifted again, so she was allowed to start in the women’s singles and ended up as the top favorite in fourth place.
The US figure skaters have been waiting for a year to see if they can still celebrate another Olympic victory. The always bold Travis Tygart, managing director of the national anti-doping agency Usada, expects that there will soon be a “full, fair and public hearing outside of Russia” before the Cas. The world cannot accept Rusada’s self-serving decision, which was a “key instrument of state-sponsored doping fraud” in Russia.
Germany hopes for medal places
At the European Championships in Espoo, near Helsinki, from Wednesday to Saturday, it’s not just Valiewa who will miss the women’s game. Because of the war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia, the number one figure skating nation, is completely excluded. For the German starters, this absence offers a great opportunity to get back into the limelight and even to win medals after years of crisis. “The field in the top positions is completely open,” said Claudia Pfeifer, sports director of the German Skating Union.
The association has high hopes for one or even two medals in pair skating. “A medal is definitely a goal. We know that it’s quite possible,” said Annika Hocke, who was seventh at the 2020 European Championships with her Berlin partner Robert Kunkel. “We know that we shouldn’t insist on that. Then it won’t work.” Most recently, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won European Championship silver in 2017.
Secretly, the seven-time German champion Nicole Schott is also speculating that she could climb onto the medal podium. “Since the three Russian girls are not at the European Championships, three places have become vacant. I think that anything can happen,” said the 26-year-old from Essen. This time the level isn’t that far apart: “The Russians could jump four times and lie on their butts three times and would still have been 50 points ahead.”