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'Why Now?' Sports Lawyer Questions Timing of Kamila Valieva's Doping Test Results

© AP Photo / David J. PhillipKamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, competes in the women's short program team figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Beijing.
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, competes in the women's short program team figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Beijing. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
Russia's 15-year-old Kamila Valieva became the first female figure skater in history to land a quad jump at the Olympics. But her triumphant performance has been overshadowed by a sudden report from WADA about a doping test she did in late December that came back positive earlier this week.
Lucien W. Valloni, a leading Swiss-based sports lawyer, has questioned the timing of Valieva's doping test controversy and explains why there is often so much bias against Russian athletes at the Olympics.
Sputnik: Who benefits from soiling the reputation of Russian athletes at the Olympics?

Lucien W. Valloni: I can only tell you that in case any team medal of the skating team is stripped from the team, then the second and the third places… we know these countries… it will be America who will benefit in the present case.

Sputnik: Why is the doping scandal being fanned despite trimetazidine being found in the athlete’s blood long before the competition and there being no consensus on whether or not the heart medication can really boost performance in figure skating?

Lucien W. Valloni: That is the problem of the WADA prohibited list because in the end, there are a lot of medications on it that do not have a performance-enhancing effect, but they are still banned and that is the point. I can only tell you it's a little bit strange that the test was done or the sample was taken already on 25 December and only now, after a very good performance by this girl, the test was made public or reported to the RUSADA, which is a little bit strange.
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, competes in the women's team free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
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Sputnik: Why do you think it took so long for WADA to reflect on the probe taken in December 2021, especially amid the political standoff between Russia and the West at the moment?

Lucien W. Valloni: I think the timing is really bad because it looks like they have waited up to the moment, this athlete would have performed very well, and then after such a performance they sent the information, it’s very strange. But we do not know why this delay happened, but it does not feel good.

Sputnik: How can the bias against Russian athletes be explained? Is this just a continuation of attempts to simply restrict Russia from participating?
Lucien W. Valloni: We do not know whether politics is behind all this. It is theoretically possible but there is a test that was made and turned out positive. But the question is why it took so long and why now? And this is really what makes people think of what's going on, and it took too long. Also, based on the rules, it took too long.
Women Single Skating. Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee in action. 7 February 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
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Sputnik: How independent was the ITA in its decision to dispute the RUSADA ruling on lifting the provisional suspension of Kamila Valieva in CAS? Can these organisations be considered truly independent from political influence?

Lucien W. Valloni: Everywhere where people work, and in these organisations, people are, of course, influenced by politics. And of course, nowadays Russia is, especially in the Western media, not a good top friend to put it a little bit friendly. And that could have an influence. But I think the most influential thing is that the name was spread, and this put all organisations involved on pressure to do something.

I think the protection of minors was not done based on the rules. And this is now the consequence - that they have not informed correctly, they should not have informed at all. They should not have delayed the medals ceremony. Then the pressure on these organisations to do something is higher because all people, all the world is looking now on how they handle the alleged scandal. And that is clear that now everything is more difficult for everybody.
Russia's Kamila Valieva attends a training session on 11 February 2022 prior a figure skating event at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
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Sputnik: Do you think this situation can be seen as a provocation against the Russian team, given that it took so long for the WADA to respond to the probe?

Lucien W. Valloni: All is possible, of course, a lot of politics is going on and I do not know how far this political pressure goes. But it's really strange that after a very good performance of this Russian athlete, the information was made public and all was given to RUSADA, that the test was positive. I think this is very bad timing or very well timed for the other side. Let's put it like that.

The next step is that CAS must decide on the lifting of the suspension that was decided as a result and now all the parties will have to explain. I assume there is a good reason why RUSADA did lift the suspension. I assume this argument will also prevail in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in order to not damage the athlete further and to protect this minor and help her save her image.
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