Russian Figure Skater Kamila Valieva Reportedly Tests Positive For Banned Drug

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Fifteen-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva reportedly tested positive for a banned drug — news that came out just as Olympics officials vaguely cited legal reasons for delaying her team medal ceremony.

Russian newspapers RBC and Kommersant said the teen tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug typically used to treat chest pain. USA Today and Reuters also confirmed the report.

Kamila was part of the Russian Olympic Committee’s six-person team that dominated the three-day figure skating team event during the Winter Games in Beijing, coming in first on Monday ahead of the United States and Japan.

The three teams were honored on the ice right after the competition, in which Japan placed third, the U.S. second and the ROC first. But Tuesday night’s medal ceremony was delayed after news of the Russian teen’s positive drug test.

The ROC did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

The 15-year-old Russian skating prodigy, heavily favored to win individual gold at the Olympics, delivered one of the major highlights of the Games thus far when she became the first female competitor to land a quadruple jump. The historic first occurred during her free skate, which helped the ROC win the team competition.

“I do feel this burden a bit, this pressure, because this is my first season among adult skaters,” she told The Associated Press. “I believe that I’m coping with this pressure, and sometimes it even pushes me forward. It helps me.”

Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee performs during the figure skating team event in Beijing on Feb. 7, 2022.
Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee performs during the figure skating team event in Beijing on Feb. 7, 2022.

Ma Ning/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Trimetazidine, or TMZ, is an anti-coagulant that increases blood flow to the heart and limits rapid swings in blood pressure. The drug is not approved for use in the U.S. and has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances since 2014.

Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist with Northwestern Medicine, told Reuters that the theory behind using TMZ in athletics is that it can enhance blood flow in a healthy person.

“The idea behind it would be potentially if you enhance blood flow, you could improve somebody’s ability to exercise longer or exercise more efficiently by allowing the heart to respond super-normally,” Khan told the outlet, adding that there’s “no strong evidence” the drug gives a performance-enhancing benefit.

On Tuesday, International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said that the medal ceremony did not happen due to an ongoing legal issue with the International Skating Union. Adams said that the committee will give an update soon.

“We have athletes that have won medals involved,” he said.

According to Russian media, Kamila’s test sample was obtained before she won the European championship last month in Estonia, where she soared in her performance and led Russia’s group of elite female figure skaters headed to Beijing. The positive test could cost the ROC its gold medal for the team competition and threaten Kamila’s chance to win the individual competition.

According to the AP, the most famous case of TMZ in sports doping involved Chinese star swimmer Sun Yang, a three-time Olympic champion who ended up facing a three-month ban in 2014. Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva tested positive for TMZ at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, was disqualified from the two-woman bobsled event and faced an eight-month ban.

Russian athletes are competing in Beijing as the ROC and not under the Russian flag due to a state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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Latest Beijng 2022 Winter Olympics Photos

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