The Russian Olympic Committee might have earned top marks in team figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics — but the gold medal still remains out of reach for the skaters as a mysterious “legal issue” continues to delay the medal ceremony for the event.
Olympic officials aren’t forthcoming with information for the reasons behind the setback. However, media reports surfaced Wednesday suggesting Kamila Valieva, the ROC’s 15-year-old star skater, tested positive for a banned substance.
According to Reuters, two Russian newspapers, RBC and Kommersant, reported Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine — a drug used to treat angina, or chest pain. Though it has medical uses, the World Anti-Doping Agency classifies trimetazidine as a prohibited metabolic modulator that could potentially function as a stimulant.
Despite the reports, Valieva was seen at practice Thursday morning, according to the Associated Press.
A positive test could ultimately jeopardize the ROC’s gold medal in the team figure skating event.
At a press conference Thursday morning in Beijing, Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, called the reports “complete speculation” while vaguely referring to the doping allegation as a “situation” with “legal implications.” (The IOC promised reporters Wednesday evening it would comment on the issue at Thursday’s conference.)
“What I would remind you is that… the IOC delegated both testing management and sanctioning in doping cases to the ITA and CAS to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest,” Adams said, referring to the International Testing Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “It’s an active legal case.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for the ITA acknowledged that the organization “is aware of the various reports following the postponed medal ceremony for the figure skating team event at the Olympic Winter Games,” but that any official statement on the matter would ultimately be posted to the ITA website.
Russian athletes are no stranger to the performance-enhancing effects of trimetazidine. Bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva also tested positive for the substance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, upon which she was disqualified and handed an eight-month ban from the sport.
The Russian Olympic Committee and ITA did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment. Russian athletes continue to compete under the ROC flag at the Olympics as Russia is still serving a four-year ban in international sports competitions as punishment for its expansive, state-sponsored doping program.
“We have to wait with patience for this case to find its way to some kind of conclusion,” Adams said at Thursday’s press conference. “We ask for the patience and understanding of all the athletes here.”