'Strawberry dessert' blamed for Russian's doping ban

A strawberry dessert contaminated by her grandfather’s heart medication might have caused Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s positive doping test, her lawyers argued at sport’s highest court, which rejected the explanation and banned her for four years.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has published the 129-page detailed ruling from its three judges to explain why they imposed the ban last week on Valieva, whose doping case at age 15 stunned the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The word “strawberry” features 43 times in the document that details why the judges rejected the argument.

The CAS judges were asked to believe that Valieva’s grandfather “accidentally dropped a pill into the dessert while he was preparing it or because there were crushed residues of a (trimetazidine) tablet on the chopping board he used to prepare the dessert”.

“There are too many shortcomings in the evidence, and too many unanswered questions, for the panel to decide that her account is more likely than not,” the judges wrote.

Valieva tested positive for the banned heart medication in a sample given at the Russian championships on December 25, 2021. The test result was not sent from a laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden until six weeks later during the Beijing Olympics.

Valieva had already skated in the team event, helping the Russians win gold, and was allowed to continue competing in the women’s individual competition. Under intense scrutiny, her error-filled free skate dropped her to a fourth-place finish.

Athletes who test positive for doping can escape a ban if they later prove they were not at fault for ingesting a substance.

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