Portugal Colonial - 'Not a level playing field': Skaters react to Valieva

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'Not a level playing field': Skaters react to Valieva
'Not a level playing field': Skaters react to Valieva

'Not a level playing field': Skaters react to Valieva

Olympic figure skaters up against Russia's Kamila Valieva, who was competing Tuesday despite testing positive for a banned substance, are determined not to let the scandal ruin their own Games.

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Fifteen-year-old Valieva was favourite for gold going into the Beijing Games, but a week into them it emerged she had tested positive in December for trimetazidine, which boosts endurance.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday ruled that she could carry on competing in the Chinese capital, although that does not mean that the Russian has been cleared of doping and could still face punishment at a later date.

"Obviously it is not a level playing field and at every sport it should be a level playing field, and we don't get that opportunity here," said Britain's Natasha McKay.

"But that is a decision they've made and obviously we have to stick with that."

Mariah Bell of the United States said it was "obviously a very touchy subject".

"I can only speak for myself and I advocate for clean sport, I think that is the whole idea of the Olympics and our careers in general," she said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that if Valieva places in the top three at the end of the singles competition on Thursday, there will be no medal ceremony.

"If I would be fourth, it would be a really tough time. I can't really say anything more," said Sweden's Josefin Taljegard.

Madeline Schizas faced Valieva in the team event last week, where her country Canada placed fourth.

The teenage Valieva led the Russians to first place but medals will not be awarded at the Games because of the doping scandal.

Canada could stand to benefit if the Russians have the title taken away, but Schizas said it wasn't her place to comment.

"My job right now is to focus on myself... I can't let anything outside my control derail me from that," she said.

Alexia Paganini, competing for Switzerland, said that she had sympathy for Valieva.

"I definitely feel sorry for her. I think this doesn't really have anything to do with her herself," she said.

"She is pretty much a product of the adults around her so I have a lot of empathy for her because regardless of everything, she did have to get on the ice and work hard.

"No matter what happened around her, she did endure a lot, so I feel sorry for her, but rules are rules and they should be followed."

H.Silva--PC