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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Ice skating calamity falls flat these Olympics

Millions of words will have been written and spoken about Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva competing in the Winter Olympics.

Only one is needed.


The 15-year-old skater, who sits is first place going into tonight's free-skate medal final, tested positive for a banned performance enhancing drug.

That's a fact.

Russia, as a country, is banned from the Olympics for its athletes using banned performance enhancing drugs.

That's a fact.

So Russia appealed to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport on behalf of Valieva, and the three-person, hand-picked committee, with Russia's approval, said let her compete and hold all medals if she secures a spot on the podium until anti-doping officials complete an investigation.

Of those on that three-person committee who said forget the facts was Jeffrey Benz, an American attorney who once represented Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova when she was accused of using performance enhancing drugs.

A former figure skater, Benz has been approved several times by Russia to hear their cases. There are 12 officials on the Court of Arbitration for Sport board but only three hear a case.

Russia seems to spend more than its fair share of time with the CAS because its athletes fail drug tests often enough to be banned from the Olympics, although the Russian Olympic Committee is allowed to compete.

That's a confusing fact.

ROC officials defended Valieva, saying perhaps the trimetazidine, a heart medication that can enhance the performance of the heart, might have been because her grandfather takes it, and she might have accidentally gotten a cross-contamination at his home.

They also said she's only 15. Her age is apparently a fact.

No matter how much they throw at the wall, not much is sticking in making this whole situation look anything but wrong.

This is not what the Olympics needs to help its image or improve its popularity.

Valieva's sample was taken last December but wasn't flagged until two week ago by a laboratory in Sweden.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has announced it will investigate her coach, Eteri Tutberidze and all the entourage surrounding Valieva.

Valieva was the favorite to win the gold coming into these Olympics, and her performance Tuesday was brilliant.

She is like poetry on ice.

She was almost flawless.

Yet, the shadow is there now and will be forever. Was part of that beauty on skates because her heart was being aided by a banned drug?

When her performance was over she wept as she left the rink, and it is being reported they were not tears of joy but frustration from the accusations.

The ROC did not make her available for interviews, and that's OK because she's 15 and caught up in a world of turmoil the ROC seemed to welcome.

To think she was totally unaware of what she was putting into her body would be as naive as to think Russia would have invaded the Ukraine during the Olympics.

Numerous athletes have expressed outrage that anyone would be allowed to compete after failing a drug test.

The International Olympic Committee, World Anti-Doping Agency and International Skating Union all ruled to ban Valieva from competing.

That was of course appealed to CAS which seems to have done what is best for Russia and one athlete, rather the Olympics and all athletes.

That's wrong.

Valieva is gifted, talented and was being touted as the best in the history of the sport, then she failed a drug test but was allowed to perform, and if she medals, all medals will be in limbo until the investigation is complete.

That's just wrong.

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