Valieva fails to shine in Russia a month before the CAS decision. FS RUSSIA

At just 15 years of age, Russian skater Kamila Valieva became both a star and a source of controversy of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. In her first major international competition, the Tatar assumed responsibility in a big way. 

She added 10 points to her team's score with an astonishing performance that included the first quadruple jump in Olympic history, she was followed by Japan's Wakaba Higuchi with 74.73. Without an anthem or flag due to the doping controversy, Valieva's routine was crucial to Russia's 74-point gold Olympic medal, ahead of the United States (65) and Japan (63) in the team competition.

In the middle of the Olympic Games, however, her positive result from the Russian Championships came to light, due to a higher-than-allowed concentration of trimetazidine, a blood booster banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2014. 

Why did the positive result come out when the law requires maximum confidentiality because it is a minor? How could it not be done when an Olympic gold medal was at stake? Was it influenced by the fact that the United States could 'inherit' the gold? Is a 15-year-old girl responsible for taking a banned product? Did she accidentally take her grandfather's medicine, or did someone give it to her? And if so, who? 

These and other questions have marked the last almost two years in the life of the Kazan skater, who in January will hear the verdict of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on WADA's request for a a four-year sanction. In any case, she will not be able to compete at the international level today, even if she is exonerated by the ban on Russians and Belarusians from international competition. 

Kamila Valieva (right), with Sofia Muravieva and winner Adelia Petrosian. FS RUSSIA
Kamila Valieva (right), with Sofia Muravieva and winner Adelia Petrosian. FS RUSSIA

The fact is that Kamila Valieva is no longer the innocent girl who captivated the world when she gracefully danced in front of just 400 "distinguished guests" plus accredited people at the almost empty Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing because of Covid. 

On 26 November, she won the Russian Grand Prix without brilliance after falling twice in the free skate, especially on a final "lutz" that she herself described as "really bad." 

Now a month before she finds out whether she will face a severe sanction that would severely hamper her career if she is banned for four years as requested by the AMA, Valieva was the main attraction at the Russian Championships held on Friday and Saturday in Chlyabinsk. 

She dominated the short programme with a score of 81.85, but in the free skate, she began with a fall on a quadruple 'toe loop', which penalised her in a routine that included a triple flip, double toe loop, triple loop, triple Salchow, triple Lutz, triple toe loop, triple flip, two double axels and a triple toe loop to complete an unimpressive exercise. 

With a score of 156.14 points, the figure skater finished in third position with 237.99, behind Sofia Muravieva (239.40) and Adelia Petrosian (246.53), the 16-year-old new product of the controversial and emblematic Eteri Tutberidze.