Former U.S. skating champ Adam Rippon on Friday slammed Russian sports officials and spoke up for teenage Olympic skater Kamila Valieva, who tested positive for a banned drug, calling it “heartbreaking.”
“This entire situation is heartbreaking,” wrote Rippon, who competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and was part of the U.S. team that won a bronze medal. “This young girl is just 15. She’s a minor. The adults around her have completely failed her. They’ve put her in this awful situation and should be punished.”
Rippon also attacked the International Olympic Committee for being too easy on Russia, which he accused of “repeatedly” refusing to “play fair.”
Russia is in the middle of a multiyear ban on official global competition following an earlier massive performance-enhancing drug scandal. Yet Valieva tested positive for the prohibited heart drug trimetazidine, the International Testing Agency confirmed Friday.
Russian athletes in Beijing are competing as the Russian Olympic Committee and not under the Russian flag because of the current ban after the nation’s state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Athletes can participate only with special permission — and only if their sports’ federations attest they’re not using banned drugs.
Lab results for Valieva’s drug sample — taken at the Russian Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg on Dec. 25 — were not available until Tuesday, the ITA said.
The young star’s performance was a critical part of the Russian team’s gold medal competition the previous day, on Monday. She nailed two quadruple jumps, the first ever by a female in the Olympic Games.
That award is now on hold as Olympic officials determine what to do. Before the violation was revealed, the U.S. team had won the team silver medal and Japan had won bronze. Canada had finished in fourth place.
The decision on the medals in the team event will be made “only after a final decision on the full merits of the case has been taken,” the ITA said in a statement.
A determination will have to be made before Valieva’s next event, competing in the women’s short singles competition Tuesday, in which she had been favored to win another gold medal.
Her case will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where the IOC is expected to challenge a decision by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to allow Valieva to compete, CNN reported.
Trimetazidine, or TMZ, is an anti-coagulant that increases blood flow to the heart and limits rapid swings in blood pressure. It’s part of a class of hormone and metabolic modulators that are banned because they have been used by athletes to enhance performance since they can increase blood flow and boost endurance.
The ROC said in a statement that Valieva had “repeatedly passed doping tests” while in Beijing and insisted that the teen and the team “honestly won” gold.
The teen was continuing to practice for her next event and was described as “lighthearted.”