Morning Chronicle - Valieva fate in balance as Odermatt wins Olympic giant slalom

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Valieva fate in balance as Odermatt wins Olympic giant slalom

Valieva fate in balance as Odermatt wins Olympic giant slalom

Sport's top court was to hold a hearing on Sunday to decide the Beijing Olympics fate of 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva after she failed a drugs test, as Switzerland's Marco Odermatt won giant slalom gold in the snow and fog.

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The Games in the Chinese capital were dogged in the build-up by concerns about Covid and human rights and have now passed the halfway point with yet more controversy surrounding them.

This time it surrounds skating sensation Valieva, whose Games hang in the balance after it emerged that she tested before the Olympics for a banned substance.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was to hold a video hearing before delivering its verdict on Monday, just a day before Valieva is scheduled to compete in the women's singles competition, one of the most closely watched events at the Olympics.

Valieva was a strong favourite for gold but her Olympics and her fledgling career are now in jeopardy.

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, said it was important to remember the "human side of this story... to think about a person of 15 in this situation".

"We need to treat this situation extremely carefully," said Dubi.

Valieva, who became the first woman ever to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition as Russia won team gold on Monday, tested positive for trimetazidine after competing at an event in Saint Petersburg on December 25.

However, the International Testing Agency says the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Stockholm only reported that Valieva had returned a positive case on February 8 -- the day after she won team gold in Beijing.

The Russian team and their government have raised questions about why it took six weeks for the result to come out.

Valieva again practised on Sunday, watched by her coach Eteri Tutberidze, who has herself come under scrutiny in the wake of the affair.

The teenager declined to comment to reporters afterwards but appeared in good spirits, laughing and joking with members of the Russian coaching team.

The case is just the latest doping scandal surrounding Russian athletes at recent Olympic Games.

Russian competitors are taking part in Beijing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), providing they have been able to prove they were not tainted by a massive state-sponsored doping programme focused on the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The Russian flag cannot be displayed at the Games and the national anthem cannot be played.

- Odermatt wins in the snow -

Heavy snow fell on Sunday but Switzerland's Odermatt lived up to expectations by holding his nerve to win the men's giant slalom.

Odermatt, who finished seventh in the downhill and skied out of the super-G, clocked a combined total of 2min 09.35sec over the two legs down the "Ice River" course, where snow and fog made conditions tricky and visibility poor.

Slovenia's Zan Kranjec claimed silver, 0.19sec off the pace, while reigning world champion Mathieu Faivre of France took bronze, 1.34sec behind the winner.

These Olympics are being held on mostly manmade snow because Beijing is one of the driest parts of China.

However, snow tumbled steadily throughout the day in the capital and in the mountains outside Beijing where skiing, snowboarding and sliding events are taking place. The snow was forecast to ease up by Monday morning.

The weather forced the postponement of qualification in the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle, in which Californian-born Chinese sensation Eileen Gu is going for a second gold medal.

The qualification round of the event will now take place on Monday.

Seven golds were up for grabs on Sunday, including in the giant slalom, with others in men's and women's biathlon, cross-country skiing, short track speed skating, and speed skating.

These Games are over though for Slovakia's newly crowned slalom champion Petra Vlhova, who has picked up an injury.