The 15-year-old Russian figure skating superstar Kamila Valieva has been caught in a doping allegation days after she became the first woman in history to land a quadruple jump at the Winter Olympics.
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, before the Beijing Games, the Russian newspaper RBC reported. The sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship in January.
The Olympic authorities postponed the Monday medal ceremony for the team figure skating event indefinitely, citing a situation that requires “legal consultation.” The Russian Olympic Committee could lose its gold medal if the positive test was confirmed.
Valieva was well expected to win another gold medal in the individual event after she landed two quadruple jumps during the team event on Monday, the first time for a female Olympian.
On Thursday, following reports of the drug test, she showed up for her scheduled practice and performed more quadruple jumps, according to Reuters. She also liked an Instagram post from a former pair skater, who expressed support with the Russian hashtag #Iwillneverbelieve, the report said.
Trimetazidine, normally prescribed to treat angina—chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart—was listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as a “metabolic modulator” and was prohibited at all times, in and out of competition.
The drug could be used by athletes to improve physical efficiency, especially in the case of endurance sports, according to a 2014 study. But Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Reuters there is no strong evidence the drug could improve athletic performance.
Chinese swimmer Sun Yang was given a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive for the drug, and Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva was disqualified from the 2018 Winter Olympics and served an eight-month ban for the drug.
Athletes who commit doping violations might not be named if they are under 18, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The Russian team is serving a two-year ban for a state-sponsored doping scheme, with athletes competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC, instead.
Figure skaters have in the past been punished for taking meldonium, believed to help athletes tolerate high training load, and furosemide, a drug that can help remove evidence of doping by creating more urine.
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