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After Russia finds 'no fault' in doping scandal of figure skater, WADA appeals case

Russia's Kamila Valieva competes in the women's single skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022.
Manan Vatsyayana
/
AFP via Getty Images
Russia's Kamila Valieva competes in the women's single skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has formally appealed a recent controversial decision in the doping case of Russian teenage figure skating star Kamilia Valieva.

WADA lodged its appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a panel used to settle international sporting disputes.

Last month the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) decided the now 16-year-old Valieva bore "no fault or negligence" for a positive drug test that dominated the news at last year's Beijing Winter Olympics.

In announcing its appeal, WADA said RUSADA's decision was wrong under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code, but didn't explain why.

WADA wants a four-year ban for Valieva and disqualification of her competition results starting on December 25, 2021. That was the day her test sample was collected, although the positive result wasn't revealed until early February 2022, after the Olympics had started.

If CAS agrees to WADA's proposed sanctions, it would nullify Valieva's Olympic results, including a gold medal in the skating team competition. The medals for that event, including a second-place silver for the U.S., have been held up due to the long delay in Valieva's case.

At least one prominent anti-doping official praised WADA's decision to appeal.

"It had to be done," said U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, "in order to restore some confidence in the global anti-doping system and we are very thankful. Now, let's hope the hearing [before CAS] is expedited and open to the public so that the athletes, whose dreams are hanging in the balance, can believe in the final outcome, whatever it may be, and that some justice can be salvaged soon."

Also waiting on a final decision – figure skaters from Japan, who finished third in the team event, and athletes from Canada. They finished fourth, but if Valieva is sanctioned and the Russian team gold revoked, the Canadians would move up to win bronze.

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Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.