Fears raised over teen Kamila Valieva’s mental well-being ahead of CAS verdict

Kamila Valieva stepped onto the Olympic ice again on Sunday as fears about her mental well-being were raised ahead of the expected verdict by the Court of Arbitration for Sport about their right to stay at the Games.

The 15-year-old went through her usual warm-up routine in the figure skating practice room as an ad-hoc CAS committee met to consider a series of appeals against the court’s decision. Russian Anti-Doping Agency to lift a provisional suspension imposed on the skater following a positive test for the banned heart drug trimetazidine.

The International Testing Agency (ITA), the World Anti-Doping Agency (AMA) and the International Skating Union (ISU) are questioning Valieva’s right to remain in the Games before the start of the women’s singles competition on Tuesday.

Kamila Valieva faces being kicked out of the Olympics on Sunday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose interests in the case are being represented by the ITA, confirmed on Tuesday that mental health resources were available to Valieva in addition to those allegedly offered by her team.

“The team always offers mental help first, but we have protective measures and officers in place,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “The support is there, but the main obligation of the team is to take care of its athletes.”

Valieva broke down in tears midway through her practice session on Saturday and was comforted by her controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze.

If her positive test is confirmed, Valieva will become the youngest athlete to fail a doping test during the Olympics, surpassing Rick DeMont, who was 16 when he was banned for using asthma medication in 1972.

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In a development unrelated to the ongoing Valieva case, the ISU is set to consider raising its minimum age limit for international competitions from 15 to 17 at its annual Congress in Thailand in June.

Kamila Valieva’s controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze is with her in Beijing (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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British ice dancer Lilah Fear, competing in her first Olympic Games in beijing with teammate Lewis Gibson, said he “certainly wouldn’t” have coped with the pressures of going to the Games at Valieva’s age.

“I think it really depends on the person, but for me at 15 I didn’t really have the mental resilience that comes from the experience of going through so much in terms of ups and downs,” the 22-year-old Fear said.

However, despite concerns about the welfare of young athletes, Fear questioned whether the answer was simply to deny an exceptional skater the right to participate in the Olympics by virtue of his age.

“I feel safer here because of all the tools I got along the way, but a 15-year-old might as well have those tools,” Fear said.

Kamila Valieva fell twice during a training session on Sunday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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“Talent is talent and being able to play the sport at the highest level should not be limited by age.”

There are still medals to be awarded for the figure skating team event, in which Valieva competed last week.

She pushed her own world record with a near-perfect short program performance as Russia cruised to the gold medal over the United States and Japan.

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Adams acknowledged the need for a quick decision by CAS, adding: “We want this to be expedited as quickly as possible and that is why it is going to the ad-hoc court of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and that is why it will have the outcome. morning.”

It’s not entirely clear what Russia’s line of defense is, beyond the fact that the delivery of the positive result, from a test carried out on Christmas Day, took much longer than the standard of 20 days indicated in the regulations of the AMA.

Lilah Fear (left) admits she would have struggled at the Olympics at the age of 15 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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It is also not known whether Valieva’s age and her status as a “protected person” with respect to doping procedures will be a mitigating factor in any possible punishment should the appeals be upheld.

Meanwhile, the skater’s choreographer, Alexey Zheleznyakov, highlighted Valieva’s innocence in an Instagram post on Sunday.

Zheleznyakov wrote: “I am not God, I have no idea, there are many options, but I am sure of one thing: Kami does not touch anything forbidden in life – with his talent, it is not necessary.”

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