Portugal Colonial - Valieva bids for second Olympic title under doping cloud

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Valieva bids for second Olympic title under doping cloud
Valieva bids for second Olympic title under doping cloud

Valieva bids for second Olympic title under doping cloud

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was poised Thursday to step onto the ice in pursuit of her second Beijing Olympics title but with a dark cloud of doping hanging heavy over her.

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The 15-year-old's closely watched appearance was the climax of a colourful day in the Chinese capital, where there was a judging controversy, a dramatic crash and more disappointment for US ski ace Mikaela Shiffrin.

But all eyes were on Valieva, who was in pole position to win the women's singles figure skating title. She will not be given the gold medal if she does.

Despite facing days of intense scrutiny after failing a drugs test, the prodigious Russian finished top in Tuesday's first half of the women's singles competition ahead of the all-important free skate that starts at 1000 GMT.

But for the first time in Olympic history, medals will not be presented if the Russian finishes in the top three because she could yet be punished for doping.

The teenager tested positive in December for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can boost endurance.

While the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that she could continue to skate in the Olympics, it did not absolve her of doping and the investigation looks set to rumble on well after the action ends in Beijing.

Before that was announced, Valieva played a central role in helping the Russians win skating team gold last week, becoming the first woman to perform a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.

No medal ceremony took place for that event either because of Valieva's involvement.

IOC president Thomas Bach met on Wednesday with members of the silver medal-winning US team, but the IOC refused to comment on reports he offered the skaters Olympic torches in place of their medals.

The affair has focused attention once more on Russian athletes at Olympic Games.

They are taking part in Beijing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee because Russia as a country is serving a two-year ban as punishment for a state-sponsored doping programme.

In another doping case, Ukrainian cross-country skier Valentyna Kaminska tested positive for an anabolic steroid and two banned stimulants.

- 'Mind-boggling for Shiffrin' -

A forlorn Shiffrin saw her last chance of winning an individual medal at these Olympics vanish.

The American crashed out of the alpine combined event, meaning she has failed to complete three races and finished out of the medals in two others -- an almost unthinkable disappointment for one of the world's best skiers.

Michelle Gisin of Switzerland went on to win the alpine combined, retaining her title from four years ago.

The 26-year-old Shiffrin had seemed perfectly placed after posting the fifth-fastest downhill time.

But in the slalom, a discipline in which she was Olympic gold medallist in 2014, the American went wide on one turn and could not get back on course.

Shiffrin's only chance of any kind of medal is now Saturday's programme-ending mixed team parallel.

"I didn’t make it to the finish again and that’s like 60 percent of my DNF (did not finish) rate from my entire career has happened at this Olympic Games," she said, describing her performance as "mind-boggling".

- Camera collision -

There was more US disappointment in the women's ice hockey, where Canada beat the Americans 3-2 to avenge a loss in the final four years ago.

Canada raced out to a lead 3-0 in the second period and held on to win to collect the country’s fifth Olympic gold in the event.

"It's just so good, it's a great feeling," said Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored twice.

"It was one hell of an effort. This is redemption."

It was all happening meanwhile in freestyle skiing.

Finland's Jon Sallinen had an unfortunate cameraman to thank after flying out of the halfpipe and colliding into him.

The 21-year-old Sallinen said he thought he had broken his collarbone but he was "lucky not to land on my head".

"I maybe got a little cushion from the camera guy," he said.

In the women's ski cross final, Switzerland's Fanny Smith lost out on a bronze medal when she was penalised for kicking a rival.

Swiss head coach Ralph Pfaeffli said the 29-year-old Smith was too distraught to speak to reporters after the race, but he said he believed the contact was "clearly incidental and not intentional".

With the Games wrapping up on Sunday, Norway top the medals table on 14 golds, Germany have 10 and the United States have eight.