President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who was at the centre of a doping scandal at the Beijing Winter Olympics, saying she could not have won gold “dishonestly”.”The whole country, figure skating fans all over the world, were especially worried about Kamila,” Putin said during a televised meeting with Russian Olympic medallists at the Kremlin.
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Valieva has “absorbed all the most complex elements of figure skating — its flexibility, beauty, power and tenderness… and with her work brought the sport to the height of real art,” Putin said.
“Such perfection cannot be achieved dishonestly, with the help of some additional means, manipulations… we understand and know this very well,” he said.
At February’s Games Valieva became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition, helping the Russian team secure gold in the team event.
It then emerged that she had earlier tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes because it can boost endurance.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) allowed Valieva — who was 15 at the time — to continue competing at the Games, citing her young age, though without clearing her of doping.
In the individual final, Valieva fell several times and finished in fourth place.
The International Olympic Committee decided not to award any medals for the team event until Valieva’s doping case has been resolved.
Heading into the Games as the all-conquering world record points holder for her spellbinding routines, Valieva helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win gold in the figure skating team event during the week opening of the competition in Beijing.
However, scandal erupted when news of a positive test for trimetazidine, a banned heart drug, emerged based on a sample Valieva had submitted with a view to winning the Russian national championships in December.
Questions have been raised about why the result took so long to be reported by the WADA lab that checked the sample in Stockholm.