Team USA's Women Skaters Advance to Final, Kamila Valieva Leads After Doping Controversy

The women's figure skating singles competition began as news broke that Kamila Valieva's attorney reportedly claimed she tested positive for a banned heart medication because it accidentally entered her system due to her grandfather taking the drug

Alysa Liu
Alysa Liu.

Team USA's athletes have all qualified to compete in the second half of the women's singles figure skating event.

Mariah Bell, 25, was the first American to skate, performing her short program to "River Flows in You" by Yiruma. Early into her program, which includes a double axel, she unfortunately fell, earning a 33.43 for her technical score, and a 32.95 for presentation. A one-point deduction left Bell with a total score of 65.38, finishing in 11th.

Alysa Liu, also skating for the first time this Games, fared a little better, finishing with a technical of 36.85 after earning 10.7 7 for her triple lutz, triple toe loop combination. The 16-year-old's total score was 69.50. She finished in eighth place.

The final U.S. athlete to skate was Karen Chen, who performed her program to "Requiem for a Tower" for a second time this Games (she earned silver in the team event with the same routine). Chen, 22, also fell, finishing with 64.11 and in 13th place.

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Russian skater Kamila Valieva heads into the free skate with a score of 82.16, followed by teammate Anna Shcherbakova, with Japan's Kaori Sakamoto in third.

Valieva's participation in the competition has been the subject of some controversy after it was revealed she reportedly tested positive for the banned substance Trimetazidine, a heart medication, in December.

On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the 15-year-old would not be suspended and could compete in the short program, a press release said. It was later reported that part of Valieva's attorney's argument was that the drug entered Valieva's body accidentally and likely belonged to the athlete's grandfather, as he takes Trimetazidine, according to Russian website The Dossier Center, USA Today reported.

Kamila Valieva
Kamila Valieva. Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

"There can be completely different ways how it got [into Valieva's body]," Kozmenko reportedly said in the hearing, according to The Dossier Center. "For example, [her] grandfather drank something from a glass, saliva got in (and) this glass was somehow later used by the athlete."

Denis Oswald, chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) disciplinary commission, also told reporters on Tuesday that Valieva's "argument was this contamination happened with a product her grandfather was taking."

Even though CAS declined to suspend the skater, if Valieva scores in the top three places the women's figure skating event, there will be no medal ceremony, the IOC said. The IOC said saying such a celebration wouldn't be "appropriate," per the outlet.

To learn more about Team USA, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, now, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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