Top sports court doesn’t believe Russian skater’s strawberry dessert defense

Russia's Kamila Valieva competes in the women's single skating free skating of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP) (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Kamila Valieva has been banned for four years. Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty ImagesCNN — 

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Wednesday that Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva did not meet the burden of proof to overturn her four-year ban for testing positive for trimetazidine.

Valieva had suggested the prohibited substance was in her body because she ate a strawberry dessert her grandfather made for her on the same chopping board on which he crushed up his heart medication.

Kamila Valieva of ROC performs during the figure skating team event women's single skating short program match at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 6, 2022.

RELATED ARTICLETrimetazidine: What is the competition-banned drug that Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for?

Trimetazidine is listed as a “metabolic modulator” and its use by athletes is banned, both in and out of competition.

Though it would not increase heart rate, unlike other performance-enhancing drugs that are classed as stimulants, it is believed that trimetazidine can help with endurance in physical activity.

Valieva’s lawyers presented multiple possible explanations for why she tested positive prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the 129-page CAS report outlined.

One scenario dubbed the “Grandfather explanation” in the CAS report was that Valieva’s grandfather, Mr. Solovyov, made her a strawberry dessert on a chopping board that was contaminated with his trimetazidine medication.

But the court determined there were “too many shortcomings in the evidence, and too many unanswered questions,” adding that the “panel has decided that the athlete did not discharge her burden of proving … that her ADRV [Anti-Doping Rule Violations] was not intentional.”

CNN Sport contributor Christine Brennan, who is also a national sports columnist for USA Today, reported: “In a nutshell, here’s what we learned: Valieva claimed the banned substance that was in her body got there because she ate her grandfather’s strawberry dessert.

CAS didn’t fall for it. Little more than a week ago, a three-member CAS panel threw the book at Valieva, suspending her for four years and disqualifying her Olympic results.

As a result of Valieva’s four-year ban and subsequent disqualification of results, backdated to Christmas Day 2021, the US Figure Skating team will receive a gold medal for its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic performance, after the then 15-year-old’s Russian Olympic Committee was knocked down to third with the re-ranking of results. Japan will receive the silver medal, while Canada – which was left “extremely disappointed” after not being awarded the bronze – remained in fourth place.

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