Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned heart drug after the national championships on Dec. 25 Photograph:( AFP )
The 15-year-old Russian skater, who is at the center of a doping dispute, is in first place in her pursuit of the women’s singles gold.
Russian teenager Kamila Valieva dominated the ice on Tuesday night, fighting back tears as she completed a skate that put her at the top of the short programme standings.
The 15-year-old shook off the doping saga that has engulfed her during the Beijing Games, dazzling cheering spectators in the stands.
For two minutes and 40 seconds, millions around the world watched her every move on Olympic ice.
The routine that had dazzled fans only days earlier in the team competition, got off to a less than perfect start.
She was expected to execute three high-flying triple jumps but stumbled on the opening triple Axel.
Valieva just about completed her triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, but her grace and precise footwork earned her a score of 82.16 - way below her 90.45 world-record performance from last month`s European championships.
She will progress to the free skate on Thursday when no medals will be awarded if Valieva, whose positive drug test has cast a shadow over the Olympics, finishes in the top three.
Valieva was cleared to compete by the sport's highest court, but will not face a hearing for her doping charge until well after the end of the Winter Games.
Olympic officials cannot award the medals until the doping case is resolved.
She tested positive for a banned heart drug after the national championships on Dec. 25, but the result was not revealed until Feb. 8, after Valieva and her Russian Olympic Committee teammates had competed at the Beijing Games.
Her defence argued in the Court of Arbitration for Sport that her positive test was caused by a mix-up with her grandfather`s heart medication, an IOC official said Tuesday.