The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the appeal arbitration procedures CAS 2023/A/9451 Association Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) v. Kamila Valieva, CAS 2023/A/9455 International Skating Union (ISU) v. Kamila Valieva, Association Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), and CAS 2023/A/9456 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) v. Association Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) & Kamila Valieva):
- The decision taken by the Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency No. 9/2023 on 24 January 2023 in relation to Ms Kamila Valieva is set aside.
- Ms Valieva is found to have committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) under Clause 4.1 of the All-Russian Anti-Doping Rules of 24 June 2021 (the Russian ADR).
- A period of four (4) years ineligibility is imposed on Ms Valieva, starting on 25 December 2021.
- All competitive results of Ms Valieva from 25 December 2021 are disqualified, with all the resulting consequences (including forfeiture of any titles, awards, medals, profits, prizes, and appearance money).
According to Clause 4.1 of the Russian ADR, athletes are responsible for any Prohibited Substance found to be present in their samples and the presence of any prohibited substance amounts to an ADRV. In this matter, a prohibited substance, Trimetazidine (TMZ), was found to be present in the sample collected from Ms Valieva on 25 December 2021 during the Russian National Championships in St Petersburg, Ms Valieva did not contest liability in that she accepted that, by reason of the presence of a TMZ in her sample, she had committed an ADRV under Clause 4.1 of the Russian ADR.
It was therefore a matter for the CAS Panel to consider what sanctions, if any, should be imposed on Ms Valieva pursuant to the Russian ADR, bearing in mind that, in the absence of grounds for elimination, reduction or suspension, the Russian ADR provide for a four-year period of ineligibility. In order to benefit from a reduced period of ineligibility, Ms Valieva needed to prove, by a balance of probabilities that she had not intentionally committed the ADRV by engaging in conduct which she knew constituted an ADRV or in conduct where she knew that there was a significant risk that said conduct might constitute or result in an ADRV and had manifestly disregarded that risk. Having carefully considered all the evidence put before it, the CAS Panel concluded that Ms Valieva was not able to establish, on the balance of probabilities and on the basis of the evidence before the Panel, that she had not committed the ADRV intentionally (within the meaning of the Russian ADR).
The CAS Panel stressed that the test with respect to intention under Clause 12.2 of the Russian ADR is one and the same whether the athlete is an adult or a Protected Person. It means that if a Protected Person fails to discharge the burden (which under the Russian ADR is borne by the athlete) that he or she did not commit ADRV intentionally, there is no basis under the rules to treat them any differently from an adult athlete. Accordingly, since it was determined that there was no scope for the exercise of discretion to reduce the period of ineligibility, a four-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel.
The period of ineligibility starts on 25 December 2021 and any period of provisional suspension served by Ms Valieva is to be credited against that period of ineligibility. The CAS Panel also ordered the disqualification all competitive results achieved by Ms Valieva from 25 December 2021, with all the resulting consequences (including forfeiture of any titles, awards, medals, profits, prizes, and appearance money).
The consequences linked to the retroactive disqualification of Ms Valieva from past events, including from the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, were not within the scope of this arbitration procedure and will have to be examined by the sports organisations concerned.
The Arbitral Award issued by the CAS Panel is currently subject to a confidentiality review meaning that the parties might request that the Arbitral Award, or certain information contained in it, remain confidential. For this reason, the Arbitral Award will not be published immediately on the CAS website.
The CAS Panel’s decision is final and binding, with the exception of the parties’ right to file an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal within 30 days on limited grounds.
Response from WADA
WADA welcomes the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold its appeal and impose a four-year period of ineligibility on the Russian Olympic Committee figure skater, Kamila Valieva, as well as disqualify her results from the date of the sample collection on 25 December 2021, including all her results during the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. WADA took this appeal to CAS in the interests of fairness for athletes and clean sport and we believe that has been delivered through this decision.
The doping of children is unforgivable. Doctors, coaches or other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full force of the World Anti-Doping Code. Indeed, WADA encourages governments to consider passing legislation – as some have done already – making the doping of minors a criminal offence.
On 24 January 2024, WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations Department published the report from ‘Operation Refuge’, a broad analysis and examination of doping among minors in sport. The report describes in detail the deep trauma and isolation many child athletes experience following a positive doping test. The report recommends that a greater emphasis be placed on education and the provision of specific policies and procedures for dealing with minors.
WADA understands the frustration of the affected parties in relation to the time it took to complete this case. Indeed, WADA shared those frustrations, which is why, at every stage of the process, including during the first instance proceedings in Russia, WADA pushed hard for a timely resolution.
Note: The impact that this disqualification of results will have on the outcome of the team figure skating competition at Beijing 2022 is a matter for the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee.
Response from USADA
Today’s decision in the Valieva case has been a long time coming. While any sense of true justice has been denied by the unbelievable and unnecessary delay in this case, we are incredibly pleased for clean athletes that this sad saga has finally come to an end and hope they can find joy and satisfaction in the fact that their long wait for justice is over. At the same time, our hearts hurt for yet another Russan athlete who the system has failed.
The points Valieva earned by competing at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games have been disqualified through this decision and it’s imperative that the ISU immediately handles the technical processes needed to reallocate the medals accordingly. Then, the rightful winners of the Team Figure Skating event can celebrate their achievement and be recognized as the Olympic champions that they are. Of course, the moment to receive this recognition and the benefits that come from their sacrifice and hard work can never be replaced.
As we have said since the beginning, the global anti-doping system failed here — it failed to protect clean athletes’ irreplaceable moments and it failed to protect a young athlete from those using her for Russia’s glory. Both Russia and WADA failed to properly follow the rules to ensure that Valieva’s sample was reported on time and her case finalized before allowing her to compete on the world’s largest stage.
As we know, Russia has hijacked the Games since 2014 where it was caught red-handed running a state-sponsored doping scheme that robbed clean athletes around the world. Here, yet again, those entrusted to protect the Games and athletes have allowed Russia to jeopardize the wellbeing of its own athletes while robbing clean athletes and fans of an honest, fair, and authentic Olympic competition.
Now, we must demand that the handling of this entire tragedy be reviewed to ensure that any necessary reforms are implemented to ensure no athlete has to endure this ever again, says Travis Tygart in a press release from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).