Putin backs Russian ice skater Valieva in doping case

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support for figure skater Kamila Valieva on Tuesday, saying she had not competed “dishonestly” after her doping case dominated this year’s Winter Olympics.

Valieva was part of the gold medal winning Russian team for the figure skating team event at the Beijing Olympics, but no medal ceremony was held as she faces an unsolved doping case resulting from a positive test at the Russian National Championships in late December.

“Through her work, she raised sport to the level of true art,” Putin said. “It is impossible to achieve this kind of perfection dishonestly, with the help of some kind of additional substances or manipulations.”

Russia entered the Beijing Olympics without its flag or anthem after years of anti-doping sanctions and legal battles in numerous sports. Russia denies that any doping was state-sponsored.

Putin presented Valieva with a state prize in a televised ceremony celebrating Russian medalists and congratulated her on her 16th birthday on Tuesday. Valieva said “it’s a great honor for me”.

After Valieva’s positive doping test was revealed during the Olympics, she faced a possible suspension from competition until the matter was resolved, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed her to continue to compete. compete. She placed fourth in the women’s individual competition as fellow Russian Anna Shcherbakova skated to gold.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, athletes and teams from Russia and its ally Belarus have been barred from many international sporting events, and Russia has been denied the right to host various competitions. Putin said Russia should hold new events instead.

“The canceled competitions must be compensated by our own new formats. And we can do it quickly,” Putin said, adding that Russia should invite “international athletes, clubs, teams.”

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Naomi C. Amerson