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Kamila Valieva: American figure skater Vincent Zhou criticizes anti-doping system before Russian hearing

  • By Jess Anderson
  • ` Sport

September 25, 2023, 08:22 BST

Updated 23 minutes ago

image source, Getty Images

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Kamila Valieva helped the Russian team win gold ahead of the USA, Japan and Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics

American figure skater Vincent Zhou says the global anti-doping system is “failing athletes” as Russia’s Kamila Valieva’s doping case is set to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) on Tuesday.

Details of a failed drug test emerged after Valieva won team gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics while the United States took silver.

Wada and the International Skating Union (Isu) say Rusada’s decision is “wrong under the World Anti-Doping Code” and are calling for a four-year ban.

Zhou and his teammates are still waiting for the medals they won in Beijing last year, and he says the awards ceremony for the team event, when it finally takes place, will be “a symbol of the International Olympic Committee’s gross failings.” (IOC), Cas and Rusada.

“As my team’s empty medal boxes show, the global anti-doping system is failing athletes,” Zhou said in a statement.

He criticized the way the case was handled, saying he and his teammates had heard “almost nothing” in the 19 months since the Games.

“We have no reason to believe that our interests will be adequately represented,” he added, saying foregoing a medal had had a negative impact on sponsorship contracts.

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

Valieva, then 15, failed a drug test in December 2021 when she tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine.

Details of the result only emerged after she won gold in the team event at the Beijing Games, where she became the first woman to complete a quadruple jump at a Winter Olympics.

After a court lifted her temporary ban, she was allowed to take part in the women’s singles competition. However, she left the arena crying after falling from first to fourth place after several falls and stumbles.

Wada said earlier this year it was “concerned” by the decision to release Valieva and wanted all of its results deleted from the sample collection date of December 25, 2021.

Cas says it is uncertain when the results of the hearing will be released.

It will take place in Lausanne, with Valieva and some of the experts and witnesses heard via video conference.

Zhou and his teammates asked if they could attend the hearing, but were told they could not because the hearing would be closed to the public.

“An open and transparent hearing would go a long way in helping athletes understand any decision made,” Zhou said.

“Transparency would increase trust in a global anti-doping system that has lost the trust of its most important stakeholders: athletes.”

Valieva returned to competition after Rusada cleared her and took second place at the Russian Figure Skating Championships at the end of 2022.

But the case has also raised questions about how the teenage athlete was treated, prompting the skating federation to raise the lower age limit for its senior category from 15 to 17 from 2024, citing the “physical, mental and emotional health” of the skating federation Participant.

Zhou also criticized global sports administrators for allowing Russia to compete in the Olympics despite a “state-sponsored doping program” that has “corrupted multiple Olympics.”

“My teammates and I are aware of widespread doping by other Russian skaters,” Zhou added.

“Unfortunately, this should come as no surprise to anyone as a non-compliant anti-doping organization is still tasked with ensuring the integrity of sport in Russia.”

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and my teammates and I will never again get the chance to stand before the world and celebrate a lifetime of hard work culminating in a career-defining achievement.”

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