The teenager was cleared of a doping charge by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was allowed to compete, overcoming an early stumble to post an impressive score of 82:16 – qualifying for Thursday’s (17 February) free skate medal event in the process.
The crowd enthusiastically cheered for Valieva as she took to the ice, and the emotions of a rough few days seemed to catch up with her after her routine, as she burst into tears.
The Russian became the face of yet another doping scandal that has lead to further mistrust of the Russian athletics establishment, and the International Olympic Committee had said that any event that Valieva could finish on the podium at would not have a medal ceremony.
The investigation into whether Valieva broke the doping rules is ongoing, and the figure skater was found to have a banned substance in her system after a test taken in December.
Today, an IOC official claimed that Valieva said that she was contaminated by her grandfather’s medication.
She tested positive for a heart medication that can improve stamina, although her coach Eteri Tutberidze told Russia state broadcaster Tass that they are ‘absolutely sure’ she is innocent.
The top sporting court ruled on Monday that Valieva could compete despite the allegations, and today she took part in the women’s singles competition.
She now leads the competition ahead of Thursday’s free skate.
Before competing, Valieva said that she was ‘happy’ to be able to skate, but ‘emotionally tired’ after the whole ordeal.
The pre-Games favourite said: "These [past] days have been very difficult for me,
"It's as if I don't have any emotions left. I am happy but at the same time I am emotionally tired."
CNN reports that Valieva was overcome with emotions after posting her score, writing: "Loudest applause for anyone for her when she finished.
"She looks incredibly emotional."
They added that after her routine ‘she walked past all of the journalists, including Russian ones, and left the mixed zone.’
They continued “She looked very solemn and didn’t speak to anyone or look at anyone.”
Russia is not currently allowed to compete under their official flag at the Games, and all athletes must compete under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee because of allegations of state-sponsored doping.
Featured Image Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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