Russian Figure Skater Kamila Valieva Blames Her Drug Ban on Grandfather’s Strawberry Dessert

After figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive on a 2021 Russian national competition drug test, her defense pointed to cross contamination in her grandfather’s kitchen.

By Olivia Evans Feb 09, 2024 3:06 PMTags
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For Kamila Valieva, this outcome was far from sweet.

The renowned Russian figure skater received a four year ban in early February 2024 from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after testing positive for TMZ (trimetazidine) during a 2021 competition. 

However, the 17-year-old's lawyers maintained that the drug—which is a prohibited substance in sport for its ability to make the heart function better—ended up in her system after eating her grandfather's strawberry dessert, according to NBC News

Kamila's lawyers claimed that her grandfather—who allegedly has taken TMZ for a heart condition since 2018—may have accidentally contaminated a dessert he made for her ahead of the 2021 Russian national competition, as he used the same chopping board to prepare the dish as he did to crush his heart medication. 

In CAS documents, the figure skater claimed to have eaten her grandfather's dessert "by bits" throughout the 2021 competition. 

And while the three-person CAS panel described her as "an honest, straightforward and credible witness," Kamila's strawberry dessert story had no "concrete" evidence other than her grandfather's word that he was using the drug.

2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony

As the court put it, per NBC News, "There are too many shortcomings in the evidence, and too many unanswered questions, for the panel to decide that her account is more likely than not."

E! News has reached out to Kamila's lawyers for comment but has not heard back.

Although her positive result was taken during a 2021 competition, the news came as Kamila was halfway through the individual competition during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. At that point, the athlete had already won gold as part of Russia's competition team. 

(Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)

In the aftermath, the team was disqualified, and reallocated the bronze medal with Kamila's scores eliminated from their total. Kamila, then-15-years-old, was allowed to continue to compete in the individual competition, but she did not perform as well as fans expected under the scrutiny of her positive drug test—and failed to medal, receiving fourth place.

(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family.)