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Putin Praises Gold Medalist That Failed Doping Test

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Russian Olympic Committee's Kamila Valieva in the women's single skating short program of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Image from Sputnik via AP

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Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the performances of adolescent figure skater Kamila Valieva could not have been achieved with the use of any prohibited substances.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Valieva failed a doping test in December during the Russian national championships. Still, the result was not revealed until February 8, a day after she had helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win the team event at the Beijing Games.

The case cast a pall over Russians’ participation in the Games, which were already under scrutiny due to separate doping sanctions that saw them compete without their flag or national anthem.

“Through her work, she brought the sport to the level of a real form of art,” Putin said of Valieva.

The Russian president’s words came at a televised awards ceremony at the Kremlin for medalists from the 2022 Beijing Winter Games, Euro News reports.

“Such perfection cannot be achieved dishonestly with the help of additional substances, manipulations,” he said. “We very well know that these additional substances are not needed in figure skating.”

Reuters reports Valieva, then a favorite to win Olympic gold, was cleared to compete in the women’s single event in Beijing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but stumbled to fourth place with an error-laden free skate. During the team event, she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics.

Valieva’s case instigated questions over whether the minimum age for competitors in figure skating, currently 15, needs to be raised to protect minors. Valieva turned 16 recently.

Putin referred to Russian and Belarusian Paralympians being removed from the Beijing Paralympic Games after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24 as a case of discrimination based on nationality.

“The suspension of athletes from Russia and Belarus not only directly violated the fundamental principles of sport, but their most basic human rights were … openly, cynically violated,” Putin said at the ceremony, which honored Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Putin also chastised the International Swimming Federation (FINA) for suspending Russian Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Rylov for nine months after he participated in a rally supporting Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Many international sports federations have barred Russian and Belarussian athletes from competing in international events in protest of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

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