Winter Olympics: Russian teen Kamila Valieva tops women's figure skating short standings after doping scandal

Russian teenager Kamila Valieva dominated the Olympic ice on Tuesday night (NZ time), fighting back tears as she completed a skate that put her at the top of the short programme standings with a doping cloud hanging over her.

The 15-year-old has been engulfed by a doping scandal in Beijing, but was cheered by spectators as she took to the ice for the first time since news of her failed drugs test.

For two minutes and 40 seconds, millions around the world watched her every move, her music, In Memoriam by Kirill Richter, almost drowned out by the clicking of cameras.

Valieva tested positive for a banned heart drug after the national championships on December 25, but the result was not revealed until February 8, after she and her Russian Olympic Committee team mates had competed in the team competition in Beijing.

Kamila Valieva competes at Beijing.
Kamila Valieva competes at Beijing. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

After dazzling the fans with a near-perfect free skate on February 7, Tuesday's routine got off to a less than perfect start.

Valieva had been expected to execute three high-flying triple jumps. But in front of her coach Eteri Tutberidze and doctor Filipp Shvetsky, also now in the harsh spotlight, she stumbled on the opening triple Axel - having fallen twice as she attempted that jump during afternoon practice.

Valieva, wearing a flowing crystal-encrusted purple dress, completed her triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, but her score of 82.16 was below the 90.18 score she got at the team event.

Such is her dominance, however, that it was still enough to put her ahead of fellow Russian Anna Shcherbakova, the world champion, on 80.20, and third-placed Kaori Sakamoto of Japan with a score of 79.84.

Kamila Valieva.
Kamila Valieva. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Alexandra Trusova, also representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), was fourth earning a score of 74.60, leaving the 'Quad Squad' with hopes of a medals sweep by the Russians, the first in women's figure skating history at the Olympics.

Valieva did not attend the post-event news conference while Shcherbakova declined to comment on her team mate's situation.

The leading skaters progress to the free skate on Thursday, where no medals will be awarded if Valieva, whose positive drug test has cast a shadow over the entire Beijing Games, finishes in the top three.

Valieva was cleared to compete by sport's highest court, but will not face a hearing for her doping charge until well after the end of the Games. Olympic officials cannot award the medals until the doping case is resolved.

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.

The banned drug is meant to treat chest pain but can add to an athlete's endurance.