Russian and Belarusian figure skaters to be barred from international competition

The International Skating Union has become the latest sporting body to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition – in a move which is likely to see Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old at the centre of the Winter Olympics doping scandal, barred from the World Figure Skating Championships later this month.

The teenage figure skating prodigy, alongside Winter Olympics gold and silver medallists Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova and the rest of the Russian team, looks set to be barred from the world championships, which is to take place in Montpellier, France, from 21 March, after the ISU said the ban would take place “until further notice” due to Russian attacks on Ukraine.

Officials – including judges and technical specialists - from the two countries are also to be banned from ISU competitions.

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An investigation into a test from December which revealed a banned substance in Ms Valieva’s sample, rocked the Winter Olympics in Beijing and is still ongoing. Ms Valieva, who was in first place after the short programme in the women’s event, slipped to fourth following a distastrous performance in the free skate following news of the doping allegations. As a minor, it was ruled that Ms Valieva could continue to take part in the competition. However, the medals in the team competition, in which Russia won gold, are still pending, due to Ms Valieva’s participation.

Kamila Valieva is among a team of 18 Russian skaters who were due to compete at the World Figure Skating Championships.Kamila Valieva is among a team of 18 Russian skaters who were due to compete at the World Figure Skating Championships.
Kamila Valieva is among a team of 18 Russian skaters who were due to compete at the World Figure Skating Championships.
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In a statement issued early this morning, the ISU said it had evaluated a statement released by the International Olympic Committee yesterday, as well as appeals received from ISU members.

It said: “Following the IOC recommendation, in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants of international ice skating competitions, the ISU Council...agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no skaters belonging to the ISU members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating Competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events.

"The same applies to officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or Regulations under Russia and Belarus.”

The ISU said it would also evaluate possibilities for “swift humanitarian assistance” to its Ukrainian ISU members.

A group of 18 Russian skaters were due to compete at the World Championships. In the ice dance competition, where Scottish skater Lewis Gibson and his partner Lilah Fear will compete for a place in the top ten, two Russian couples were likely to be in contention for a place on the podium. Meanwhile, Russian skaters also rank first and second in the world in the pairs discipline.

In a statement yesterday the OIC said: “The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee discussed again today the dilemma the Olympic Movement is currently facing after the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and the government of Belarus through its support in this.

"In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”

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