Russian skater Kamila Valieva's doping case to be heard Sunday at Olympics

BEIJING -- Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva will find out Monday whether she can skate in the Winter Olympics women's competition, which starts a day later.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport announced Saturday that the expedited hearing on Valieva's doping case will be held Sunday night in Beijing, with a ruling by Monday afternoon.

The 15-year-old skater, the favorite to win the gold medal, broke down in tears after an emotional practice session Saturday.

Valieva's status at the Olympics became unclear after she tested positive for the banned heart medication, trimetazidine, in Russia in December. She won a gold medal in the team event five days ago, before the test result was known, and is scheduled to compete as an individual Tuesday.

Valieva fell during practice on a triple axel -- a jump she typically executes without a problem -- while doing a run-through of her short program. She later landed two combos, a triple flip-triple toe loop and a triple lutz-triple toe loop before skating to the boards and giving her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, an emotional hug.

Earlier Saturday, the highest court in sports confirmed it has received appeals from both the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency challenging Valieva's right to compete.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency gave her an automatic ban after testing positive. A day later, RUSADA lifted the provisional ban. The IOC filed an urgent appeal, which the Court of Arbitration of Sport will hear Sunday.

"It was sending a signal that we want this solved as quickly as it can be," IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said.

The legal process is unusually complex because of Valieva's status as a minor, which gives her protections in the anti-doping rule book.

Because Valieva is only 15, her ultimate penalty could be as little as a reprimand. Her entourage of coaches and doctors face more scrutiny because the World Anti-Doping Code mandates they are automatically put under investigation.

Valieva tested positive in a sample given on Dec. 25, when she won the Russian national championships.

That sample was the responsibility of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, known as RUSADA. It was sent to a WADA-approved laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, for analysis.

On Monday -- hours after Valieva's skating helped the Russians win the Olympic team event -- the Stockholm lab notified RUSADA the test was positive.

The CAS panel of three judges will consider only the request to re-impose the interim ban on Valieva.

Whether the Russian team keeps the gold medal in the team event will be decided later.

The full investigation of the doping case is for RUSADA to handle and could take months. That could also be appealed to CAS.

One of the lawyers who will judge Valieva's doping case is an American who was once picked by Maria Sharapova's legal team for her appeal over a similar performance-enhancing drug.

Jeffrey Benz was named Saturday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to sit on the three-judge panel for the urgent case of Valieva.

The verdict will come from Benz and his fellow judges, who are from Italy and Slovenia.

The panel for the closed-door, video-link hearing was picked by the court, known as the CAS, from a select group of nine judges made available for special duty at the Beijing Olympics.

Neither side in the Valieva case was allowed to pick a preferred judge -- as they would in a typical case outside the Olympics -- but the Russians might be happy with the American.

Benz was an elite figure skater, competing in ice dance at the national level in the United States, and has been picked for several cases involving Russian sports as one of the most in-demand judges at the CAS.

In Sharapova's appeal at the Switzerland-based court in 2016, Benz was chosen on behalf of the Russian tennis star to serve on the three-judge panel. She had been banned for two years after testing positive for the banned heart medication meldonium at the Australian Open. The CAS ruled she was not entirely at fault and her ban was cut to 15 months.

Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, another banned heart medication.

Another skating case at the court, in 2017, saw Benz picked by the Russian national federation and RUSADA, the anti-doping agency that is a party in the Valieva hearing on Sunday.

That time, Benz and his fellow judges extended the ban for Russian short track speedskater Alexandra Malkova. She served a 20-month ban instead of three months.

The Valieva case is also not the first involving Russian athletes and Benz as a judge for Olympic eligibility.

A group of 67 track and field athletes took a fast-track case to the CAS in July 2016 amid fallout from the Russian doping scandal and frenetic legal activity ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The judges upheld the rules of track's governing body, which excluded the Russians.