Russian skater's Olympic doping drama delayed again as this clown show drags on

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — A delay, you say? There’s been another delay? The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s Kamila Valieva doping hearing, nearing what was believed to be a conclusion Thursday afternoon, all of a sudden abruptly adjourns until Nov. 9?

Well of course it did. Why wouldn’t it? A few more delays here and a little more dithering there and we might be well into 2024 — maybe even nearing 2025 — before the Olympic figure skaters who won their medals on Feb. 7, 2022, finally get to wear them around their necks.

The ridiculous has became preposterous. One of the loveliest and simplest tasks performed in the Olympic world, the presentation of the medals to the athletes who won them, has turned into an utterly embarrassing international debacle.

Who’s responsible for this organizational train wreck, this institutional nightmare? Hmmm. Let’s think about that. Who could it be?

I have a guess. It starts with R…

Take it away, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

“Of course, we all are for full and complete due process but this reeks of just further manipulation by the Russians and the system has to change to ensure this cannot continue to happen.”

Tygart knows his performance-enhancing drug culprits when he sees them; he’s the man who brought Lance Armstrong to justice.

Russian skater Kamila Valieva's doping hearing was abruptly adjourned on Thursday.
Russian skater Kamila Valieva's doping hearing was abruptly adjourned on Thursday.

No one outside the third-floor hearing room at CAS headquarters knows exactly what happened to further delay the Valieva doping saga, which will mark its 600th day Saturday. The three arbitrators made the decision to stop the proceedings Thursday afternoon and “ordered the production of further documentation,” CAS said.

Then they decided to take six weeks off. Six weeks for everyone to look at this “documentation” in a scandal that already has been going on for 598 days?

But time is relative, right? Russia certainly thinks so. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which itself was suspended from 2015-2018 for helping Russian athletes cheat, took the better part of the first year of this fiasco to alternate between “investigating” and foot-dragging.

And it was more than three months ago that CAS announced the Valieva hearing would be held the last week of September. Everyone had those three months to prepare, plus several months beforehand knowing it was coming.

So now there’s something new?

Apparently, one of the parties in the case requested a file on Thursday that was not previously a part of the proceedings. The timing of that request was a surprise, coming as it did when CAS thought the hearing was nearing its end, which then would have triggered the start of deliberations by the arbitration panel. Those deliberations are expected to take from one to three months, at which time the verdict of Valieva’s guilt or innocence would be revealed.

Now, that timetable gets pushed back another six weeks, meaning there likely won’t be a CAS decision until January or February 2024.

Then, and only then, will the International Skating Union decide the true results of the 2022 Olympic team figure skating event. If Valieva — who was 15 at the time and considered a “protected person,” or minor, under world anti-doping rules — is found to be innocent, the results likely will stand: Russia, US, Japan. If she is deemed guilty, it’s likely the US would move up to the gold medal, followed by Japan with the silver and fourth-place Canada moving up to take the bronze.

When all this will happen, and how the skaters will receive their medals, is anyone’s guess. The next Winter Olympics will be held in Italy beginning Feb. 6, 2026. Hopefully it will be before then.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Skater Kamila Valieva's doping drama is a clown show with more delays