(Reuters) – Figure skater Kamila Valieva returned to competition on Saturday at an event in Russia, just over a month after a doping scandal tarnished the 15-year-old’s performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Valieva, who turns 16 next month, competed in the short programme at the Channel One Cup in Saransk, which clashes with the world championships held in France from which Russians have been banned over Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Skating to In Memoriam by Kirill Richter, Valieva was met with warm cheers from the local fans.
“That’s what I missed, the home spectators,” she said.
The Olympic Games in China were held without foreign fans due to COVID restrictions.
Valieva, who became the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics, failed a doping test at her national championships last December but the result was only revealed on Feb. 8, a day after she had already helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win the team event.
Valieva, favourite to win Olympic gold, was later cleared to compete in the women’s single event in Beijing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but stumbled to fourth place.
Russians at the Beijing Games were already facing increased scrutiny, competing without their flag and anthem for doping offences.
(Reporting by Reuters)