Russian Figure Skater Has Dessert-Related Excuse for Doping Ban


Celebrated Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva had an interesting excuse after she was slapped with a four-year competition ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) during a 2021 competition. TMZ is prohibited from sports competitions because it increases the heart’s functionality. NBC News reported the verdict, which was detailed in an extensive report by the CAS.

When 17-year-old Valieva and her attorneys had to defend the presence of TMZ in her system, they blamed her grandfather’s strawberry dessert. According to the report, Valieva’s lawyers said she might’ve tested positive because her grandfather prepared dessert using the same chopping board upon which he crushed his heart medication.

Valieva’s lawyers allege that her grandfather prepared a strawberry dessert for her before a Russian national competition in December of 2021. She tested positive for TMZ at that event, but the results weren’t known until after Valieva took the Russian team to a gold-medal win. The controversy surrounding her case dominated Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics.

The teenager’s counsel reportedly argued that her grandfather had been taking TMZ since 2018, and was still on it at the time she tested positive. However, the court rejected these claims because they found no evidence that her grandfather was taking the drug beyond his own claims.

Though Valieva was seen by the court as “an honest, straightforward, and credible witness,” her excuse for testing positive was “not corroborated by any concrete evidence,” according to the report.

“There are too many shortcomings in the evidence, and too many unanswered questions, for the panel to decide that her account is more likely than not,” the court explained.

The CAS ruling comes after they upheld a January appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which requested the four-year ban after Valieva was cleared by a Russian tribunal. Prior to the scandal, Valieva was seen as one of the finest figure skaters in decades, and was the favorite to take gold at the Beijing Olympics.

CAS’s ruling on Valieva subsequently led to the International Skating Union disqualifying the gold-winning Russian team from 2021. Team USA was retroactively given the gold, while Russia’s team was moved down to bronze. Valieva’s scores were completely erased from the team’s final tally.

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