Fears over teenager Kamila Valieva’s mental wellbeing ahead of CAS verdict
Kamila Valieva returned to the Olympic ice on Sunday amid fears over her mental well-being ahead of an expected Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict on her right to remain at the Games.
The 15-year-old performed her usual warm-up routine in the figure skating practice room as a CAS ad hoc committee met to consider a series of appeals against the Agency’s decision anti-doping to lift an imposed provisional suspension. on the skater following a positive test for the banned heart drug trimetazidine.
The International Testing Agency (ITA), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and International Skating Union (ISU) are contesting Valieva’s right to remain at the Games before the start of women’s singles competition on Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose interests in the case are represented by the ITA, confirmed on Tuesday that mental health resources were available to Valieva in addition to those presumably offered by her team.
“Mental help is always offered first by the team, but we have measures in place and security guards,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “The support is there but the first obligation for the team is to take care of its athletes.”
Valieva had broken down in tears midway through her training session on Saturday and was comforted by her controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze.
If her positive test is confirmed, Valieva will become the youngest athlete to fail a doping test at the Olympics, overtaking Rick DeMont, who was 16 when he was disciplined for using asthma medication in 1972.
In a development unrelated to the ongoing Valieva case, the ISU is expected to consider raising its minimum age limit for international competitions from 15 to 17 at its annual congress in Thailand in June.
British ice dancer Lilah Fear, competing in her first Olympics in Beijing with partner Lewis Gibson, said she ‘definitely wouldn’t’ have faced the pressure of going to the Games at the age by Valeva.
“I think it really depends on the individual, but for me I didn’t really have the mental resilience at 15 that comes from the experience of going through so much in terms of ups and downs,” said 22-year-old Fear.
However, despite concerns for the welfare of young athletes, Fear wondered if the answer was simply to deny an exceptional skater the right to compete in the Olympics because of their age.
“I feel more confident here with all the tools I’ve picked up along the way, but a 15-year-old could have those tools as well,” Fear said.
“Talent is talent and being able to play your sport at the highest level shouldn’t be limited to age.”
There are still medals to be awarded for the figure skating team event, which Valieva competed in last week.
She put the pressure on her own world record with a nearly flawless short program performance as Russia won gold against the United States and Japan.
Adams acknowledged the need for a quick decision from CAS, adding: “We want this to be expedited as quickly as possible and that’s why this is going to the ad hoc Tribunal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and why you will have the result. tomorrow.
Russia’s line of defense is not entirely clear, beyond the fact that delivery of the positive result – from a test carried out on Christmas Day – took much longer than the standard 20 days. indicated in the WADA rules.
It’s also unclear whether Valieva’s age and her “protected person” status with respect to doping proceedings, will be a mitigating factor in any potential punishment if the appeals are upheld.
Meanwhile, the skater’s choreographer Alexey Zheleznyakov highlighted Valieva’s innocence in an Instagram post on Sunday.
Zheleznyakov wrote: “I am not God, I have no idea, there are many options, but I am sure of one thing: Kami does not touch anything forbidden in life – with his talent, it’s not necessary.”