The International Olympic Committee has dismissed claims that a double standard was applied to the US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson compared with the Russian skater Kamila Valieva after both tested positive for a banned drug.
Richardson missed last year’s summer Games in Tokyo after receiving a 30-day ban for smoking cannabis, a drug few believe is performance enhancing, saying she had done so to relieve the pain she felt over the recent death of her mother.
Meanwhile on Monday the court of arbitration for sport had allowed Valieva to continue to compete at the Winter Games in Beijing despite it emerging that the 15-year-old had tested positive for the angina drug trimetazidine, a more serious offence.
Earlier this week Richardson had suggested that the colour of her skin was behind the discrepancy, saying: “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mine? The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.”
Others have suggested that the IOC has been soft on Russia compared with the US. However, IOC spokesman Mark Adams insisted that that was not the case.
“You can’t talk about double standards in relation to Russian and American athletes, each case is individual,” he said. “Richardson’s positive doping test was discovered on 19 June, and the result was received before the start of the Olympics. She was suspended for a month. There is nothing in common between these two cases.”
In its ruling, Cas said banning Valieva “would cause her irreparable harm” and she took her place in the women’s skating competition, where she leads at the halfway stage.
However, Cas’s ruling was solely on whether the teenager can compete again in Beijing and she could still be banned from competition over the failed test in the coming weeks.
Adams also confirmed that an asterisk would be placed against the women’s figure skating competition until the conclusion of Valieva’s doping case.
“This Games, which has not concluded, concerns an issue in December,” he said. “She is in the centre of a lot of speculation. It must be very tough for her. We, of course, are in touch with the team, her welfare is the team’s first priority, and obviously we are very careful of that but there’s only so much that we can do.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Valieva listed two legal substances used to improve heart function on an anti-doping control form she filled out before her drug case at the Olympics emerged.
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the existence of L-carnitine and Hypoxen, though both legal, undercuts the argument that a banned substance, trimetazidine, might have entered the skater’s system accidentally.
Travis Tygart, the chief executive of US Anti-Doping Agency, also warned that such medication was “an indication that something more serious is going on,” adding that “it totally undermines the credibility” of the Russian’s defence.
Elsewhere the Ukrainian cross-country skier Valentyna Kaminska has tested positive for an anabolic androgenic steroid and two stimulants, the International Testing Agency said on Wednesday. The 34-year-old, who finished well down the field in her three events, is the second athlete to test positive in Beijing after the Iranian Alpine skier Hossein Saveh-Shemshaki, who was provisionally suspended last week.