On Tuesday, Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva overcame her Olympic doping scandal to dominate the women’s competition, putting her in the lead for a gold medal that is unlikely to be handed in Beijing.
The 15-year-old battled back tears as she finished the 2-minute 40-second act, her music nearly drowned out by the clicking of cameras.
If Valieva finishes in the top three of the two-day tournament, which begins on Thursday, no medals will be awarded.
The teenager’s case will not be resolved until the end of the Beijing Games despite testing positive for a banned heart medication.
It was not until Feb. 8 that Valieva’s result was made public, after she had already competed in the team event at the Beijing Games.
An Olympic official stated Valieva’s defense was a mix-up with her grandfather’s cardiac medicine.
Because of Valieva’s doping case, the US team’s nine skaters and Japan’s seven skaters will not receive medals. The USA came second, with Japan third.
Valieva was supposed to perform three high-flying triple leaps on Tuesday night, but she tripped on the first one. Her 82.16 score was behind her 90.18 team score.
Still, she was ahead of world champion Anna Shcherbakova (80.20) and third-placed Kaori Sakamoto (79.84) going into Thursday’s free skate.