Kamila Valieva is a teenage figure-skating star from Russia. It turns out she failed a drugs test in December—but officials decided not to disclose the results until she helped her team win gold in Beijing's Winter Olympics this week.
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, which is used in the prevention of angina attacks, but is on the banned list because it is classed as a cardiac metabolic modulator and has been proven to improve physical efficiency. A series of appeals means this case will now be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to make a final ruling – with International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams saying he wanted a resolution "as quickly as possible". The medals for the team event – in which the United States finished second, Japan third and Canada fourth – will not be awarded until the outcome of the Cas hearing.
Russia is superficially banned from the tournament (for cheating, obviously) but Russian athletes themselves are still allowed to compete as long as they haven't been caught. At the opening ceremony, some broke the rules on not showing the Russian flag.
NPR reports that the "reasons aren't clear" why Valieva herself was permitted to compete. On the radio this morning, the hosts plainly described the International Olympic Committee as "all about power and money."
Remember in all this that Valieva is a victim. It's a cautionary tale for those of us who think it would be cool if there were an official performance-enhanced tier or class in athletics. It can't work out because even in the best case scenario, this will be administered by some of the world's most blatantly corrupt and opaque international organizations. The outcome will be more 14-year-old girls being pumped with steroids, heart meds and hormones by the Russian state.