Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian skater who charmed these Winter Olympics before her positive drugs test sent shockwaves across the world, has sensationally been cleared to compete in the individual event due to the “exceptional circumstances” of her case.

The court of arbitration for sport, which delivered its verdict shortly before 2pm Beijing time, said that ban Valieva while her doping case was ongoing “would cause her irreparable harm”.

The three-person Cas panel also ruled that the World Anti-Doping Code was unclear when it came to suspended “protected persons” under 16 years of age and said that a 44-day delay in reporting Valieva’s positive test for the banned angina drug trimetazidine had affected her ability to mount a defence.

“The panel considered that preventing the athlete from competing at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances,” Matthieu Reeb, secretary general for the court of arbitration for sport, told the world’s press.

Reeb added that the delay in Valieva being tested in Russia on Christmas Day and her sample being reported by a laboratory in Sweden on 8 February, had been “extremely unfortunate as it affects not only the athlete, but also the organisers of the Olympic Games.

“In other words, we will not have this case if these anti-doping test procedures would have been completed in one week or 10 days as it is generally the case,” he added.

Reeb also stressed that the panel was “concerned” that if a permanent suspension was imposed on Valieva and she was later cleared or given a very low sanction it would have caused “serious damage”.

Kamila Valieva performs during the team event in Beijing
Kamila Valieva performs during the team event in Beijing. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

As a result, Cas said it was rejecting an appeal from the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Skating Union to reimpose her provisional suspension.

However the decision does not mean that Valieva, who was revealed last week to have tested positive for trimetazidine on Christmas Day, has escaped a doping ban.

The fate of the team figure skating gold medal, won last Monday by a Russian Olympic Committee team led by Valieva, is also unlikely to be known for several weeks.

Explaining its decision, which came after a hearing conducted by video conference on Sunday night, Cas wrote: “On the basis of the very limited facts of this case, and after consideration of the relevant legal issues, it has been determined that no provisional suspension should be imposed on the athlete due to exceptional circumstances.”

“The panel considered fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm and the relative balance of interests as between the applicants and the athletes, who did not test positive during the Olympic Games in Beijing and is still subject to a disciplinary procedure,” it added.

The Cas decision continues an extraordinary week for Valieva, which began when she led the Russian Olympic Committee to figure skating team gold last Monday after performing a quad for the first time in the history of the Games.

A day later the World Anti-Doping Agency-approved Stockholm laboratory reported that a urine sample taken from her on Christmas Day was found to contain trimetazidine, which led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency provisionally suspending her.

A day later that suspension was reversed and challenged by the IOC, Wada and the ISU, which took a case to Cas.

Meanwhile Valieva has had the pressure of the world’s gaze on her as she continues to train in Beijing. She is now to skate in the short programme on Tuesday and the free programme on Thursday.

However Sarah Hirshland, the president of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said she was “disappointed” by the decision.

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“It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic community to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches and all involved to the highest of standards,” she added. “Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field. Unfortunately, today that right is being denied.

“This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” she added. “We know this case is not yet closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”

Source: The Guardian