Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir have slammed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to allow Russian skater Kamila Valieva to compete in the 2022 Winter Games after she tested positive for a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
NBC’s lead figure skating analysts, Lipinski, 39, and Weir, 37, were not pleased when Valieva returned to the ice on Tuesday to compete in the women’s short program in Beijing, China, despite trimetazidine being found in the sports star’s system in December.
They voiced their outrage during NBC’s live broadcast of the event, with Weir calling her presence on the ice a ‘slap in the face’ to every other skater and Lipinski insisting that it ‘put a permanent scar’ on the sport.
‘If you can’t play fair, then you can’t play, and it is a shame because she is a tremendous athlete,’ said Weir.
‘A positive [drug] test is a positive test. She cannot skate,’ added Lipinski.
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir have slammed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to allow Russian skater Kamila Valieva to compete in the 2022 Winter Games
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
She had been provisionally suspended but returned to the ice on Tuesday to compete in the women’s short program in Beijing, China
Valieva, 15, tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina and other heart-related conditions.
It increases blood flood to the heart and limits swings in blood pressure and has been on the WDAS’s list of prohibited substances as a ‘hormone and metabolic modulator’ since 2014.
Valieva claimed the drug entered her system after she shared a glass of water with her grandfather, who takes the medicine for a heart condition – and after a provisional suspension, she was ultimately cleared by the CAS following a hearing on Sunday.
The CAS decided to allow her to continue competing at the event, saying that she is a ‘protected person’ who could suffer ‘irreparable harm’ from a ban.
However, Lipinski and Weir, who are both former Olympic figure skaters themselves, made it clear that they strongly disapproved of the ruling during their commentary on Tuesday.
‘We have to remind ourselves that she is just 15 years old, a minor, and I know more than anyone what it’s like to compete at an Olympic Games at 15 years old,’ Lipinski said, adding that at the end of the day, she still had a positive drug test.
Lipinski and Weir, who are both former Olympic figure skaters themselves, were upset with the decision and voiced their outrage during NBC’s live broadcast of the event
Lipinski said she ‘couldn’t comprehend’ there not being a medal ceremony, pointing out that Valieva’s decisions are now ‘affecting so many other skaters’ lives and experiences’
The International Olympic Committee announced earlier this week that although Valieva could compete, she would not be awarded any medals if she landed in the top three.
They also said that the medal ceremony would be cancelled entirely if she finished in the top three of an event.
‘It would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony,’ the IOC said.
Lipinski noted that this means that allowing Valieva to participate has repercussions for all of the other athletes.
‘It’s not just about her skating or not skating,’ Lipinski said. ‘It’s affecting everyone at these Olympic Games.
‘To think that there’s going to be no medal ceremony if she’s on the podium, I can’t even comprehend that. Imagine how it’s affecting so many other skaters’ lives and their experiences.’
Weir, a two-time Olympian, added: ‘The Olympics were everything that I ever dreamed about, everything that kept me going on the day-to-day and to have that experience and that feeling … diminished because of a positive drug test on one of your competitors when everyone else adheres to the rules … it’s a slap in the face to every other skater.’
Olympic officials announced earlier this week that Valieva (pictured in 2021) could compete in the games, but said she would not be awarded any more medals if she won
Weir called it a ‘slap in the face’ to every other skater, while Lipinski said it ‘put a permanent scar’ on the sport
‘It’s putting a permanent scar on our sport,’ Lipinski said.
The sports commenter, who took home her own gold medal at the Olympics in 1998, said standing on the podium was one of her most vivid memories, adding that it was ‘so sad’ that it may be ‘taken away’ from the other skaters.
Valieva’s positive result came to light after she won gold in the team event last week, resulting in that medal ceremony also being cancelled.
On Tuesday, she secured a top place in the women’s short program, after overcoming an early mistake that left her in tears.
Despite nearly falling on her opening triple axel, Valieva earned 82.16 points – more than eight points off her own world record – but enough to top teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The event will continue on Thursday with the free skate.
The New York Times reported that in addition to trimetazidine, the two other heart medications that are not on the banned list – hypoxen and L-Carnitine – were also found in Valieva’s sample that was tested at a Stockholm laboratory last Christmas.
On Tuesday, she secured a top place in the women’s short program, after overcoming an early mistake that left her in tears. She is pictured at the event
Despite Valieva nearly falling on her opening triple axel, she earned 82.16 points – enough to top teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. She is pictured at the event
The Olympian tearfully left the ice after the performance. She is pictured at the event
Besides trimetazidine, evidence of two other heart medications that are not on the banned list were also found in her system – hypoxen and L-Carnitine. Valieva is pictured on Tuesday
Valieva’s team claimed she failed the test because medication that her grandfather was taking entered her system after she shared a glass of water with him. She is pictured in January
Valieva’s team claimed that she failed the doping test because of contamination from medication that her grandfather was taking for a heart condition, explaining that it entered the teenager’s system after she shared a glass of water with him.
Although she can skate at the Olympics, the investigation will continue for months, and the committee said she may be stripped of medals later.
Valieva, born in Kazan, Russia, is the current world record holder for the women’s short program, free skating, and total scores.
She has set nine world records during her career and is the first female skater to break the 250-, 260-, and 270-point thresholds in the total score.
She is the 2022 European champion, 2021 Rostelecom Cup champion, 2021 Skate Canada International champion, 2022 Russian national champion, and 2021 Russian National silver medalist.
Timeline of the doping scandal that rocked the Olympics
Dec 25, 2021: Kamila Valieva, 15, gives a sample during a skating contest in Moscow which is taken by Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA and sent to a lab in Sweden for testing.
Feb 7, 2022: Valieva wins gold during the team figure skating event in Beijing, becoming the first woman to land a quadruple jump in the process.
Feb 8: A World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Sweden reports that the sample from December 25 is positive for banned substance TMZ.
This triggers an automatic ban by RUSADA, which stops her from taking part in the rest of the Olympics.
The medal ceremony for the team skating event is delayed.
Feb 9: Valieva appeals against the decision, and RUSADA overturns the suspension – clearing her to compete in the singles skating event on Feb 15.
Feb 10: The International Olympic Committee appeals against the Russian decision, and the case is referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Feb 11: The International Testing Agency, which is leading the case on behalf of the IOC, confirms that Kamila is the athlete involved.
It had previously concealed her identity under anti-doping rules because she is a minor.
The IOC appeals to judges to make a ruling before Feb 15, when Valieva is next due to compete.
Feb 13: The Court of Arbitration for Sport holds a hearing in which Valieva argues the positive test result was due to her grandfather’s medicine.
Feb 14: The skater is cleared to compete because officials say she is a ‘protected person’ who could suffer ‘irreparable harm’ from a ban.
Feb 15: Valieva returns to the rink for the women’s short program, in which she finishes top of the leaderboard despite faltering.