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Travis Tygart: US could prosecute Russians in Kamila Valieva case, says USADA chief

By Lizzy Yee, Arnaud Siad and Aleks Klosok, CNN

The United States could prosecute Russian individuals allegedly involved in figure skater Kamila Valieva’s doping case under the American Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act (RADA), the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, told CNN on Friday.

The RADA bill, named after whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov who helped expose the Russian doping scandal, was signed into law by former US President Donald Trump in December 2020.

The bill enables the US to impose criminal sanctions on individuals involved in doping at major international sports competitions that feature US athletes, sponsors and broadcasters.

Penalties for violating the law include up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of $250,000 for individuals and $1 million for organizations.

“As more facts are developed, I think the Rodchenkov Act potentially could come into play,” said Tygart.

“If there’s a doctor, or a coach, or state officials, sport official, who conspired to dope her [Valieva], then [the Rodchenkov Act] fits like a glove, because it is an international major competition, as defined by the Rodchenkov Act, which includes U.S. money, companies broadcasting, or sponsoring, the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) code applies, there’s more than three foreign athletes, and there’s more than one US athlete competing,” he added.

“Russia’s doping, state sponsored and otherwise, has taken away from what we ought to be celebrating, which is the Olympic values, competition done the right way, athletes who win because they’re doing it the right way,” Tygart added.

‘Tremendous amount of sympathy’

Speaking about 15-year-old Valieva, Tygart said there was “a tremendous amount of sympathy for this young athlete (…) at the center of a global media firestorm, due to no fault of her own.”

“People in the world don’t want to watch a rigged games,” he added.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) announced Friday it has launched an investigation into Valieva’s support staff following the Russian’s positive doping test.

Earlier on Friday, The International Testing Agency (ITA) confirmed that the 15-year-old failed a drug test taken in December, ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Valieva, who helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) take gold in Monday’s figure skating team event, was allowed to compete despite failing the test, after a provisional suspension which had been placed on her over the matter was lifted by RUSADA.

Meanwhile, the Court of Arbitration (CAS) announced Friday that is has received applications from both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WADA appealing the RUSADA decision to lift a provisional suspension on Valieva following a doping violation.

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“The applications will be consolidated,” said the CAS in a statement. “A Panel of arbitrators will be appointed shortly to decide the matter. The Panel will issue procedural directions, including directions for a hearing.

“The date and time of the CAS decision will be announced after the hearing.”

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