WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9
Russian media is reporting 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva has tested positive for a banned drug.
It follows a ceremony to present the Russian and her teammates with their Olympic gold medals being postponed due to an unspecified, last-minute “legal consultation”.
The news broke late at night in Beijing, where Valieva was part of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) ensemble that won the figure skating team event ahead of the United States and Japan.
The ROC declined to comment on earlier reports that Valieva had returned a positive test.
The teenager delivered one of the highlights of the Beijing Games when she landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman in Olympic competition.
The ROC team finished first on Monday but the medal ceremony was delayed.(Getty Images/Xinhua: Liu Xiao)
She was one of four ROC skaters who did not appear at their practice sessions on Wednesday.
Prominent journalist Vasily Konov, the deputy general producer at Russian sports channel Match-TV, said without citing sources, that the sample in question had been taken two months ago.
“The drug trimetazidine does not help an athlete in any way. At all,” he wrote on social media.
“It was found in one single sample in December. A minuscule amount. Nothing in her samples before or since
“There is no doping in the conventional sense. No! This cardiac drug has no impact on … performance. Now leave Kamila in peace.”
Trimetazidine, or TMZ, works by increasing blood flow to the heart and limiting rapid swings in blood pressure. It is listed as a metabolic modulator on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list.
According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, TMZ can be used by athletes to improve their performance, especially in endurance sports.
It has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances since January 2014. Chinese swimmer Sun Yang tested positive for the drug later that year, leading to a ban.
Former Russian pairs skater Tatiana Volosozhar, who won two gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, offered words of support for Valieva on social media, calling for the use of the Russian hashtag #Iwillneverbelieve to send the teenager support.
“I’m with you with all my heart, everything is with you! Girl hold on!!” Volosozhar wrote.
The government says it will return to religious groups to consult on the future of its contentious religious discrimination bill, following a dramatic defeat when it was put to a vote overnight.
In the early hours of this morning, five Liberal MPs joined Labor and the crossbench to vote against the government and extend protections for transgender school staff and students from discrimination.
The religious discrimination bill itself remains unchanged, but some religious groups have been adamant they do not support the transgender student and teacher protections promised alongside it.
With the bill now passed to the Senate for a second showdown, Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker said the government was speaking with religious groups about what to do next.
“It’s not what the government designed,” Senator Stoker said.
“It’s not what we thought had got the balance right. That’s why we are going to talk to them all today.”
“While the House of Representatives voted for historic changes to the Sex Discrimination Act that will protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in religious schools, the house also voted to wind back existing discrimination protections for our communities and many others,” Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, said
Equality Australia has argued “statement of belief” provisions that passed the house will allow religious people to say harmful and discriminatory things against LGBT people, women and people with disability.
The government has several options for the future of its bill: It could wave the bill through the Senate, fight for its original proposal and have it returned to the house, or withdraw the bill entirely.
Labor is insisting on amending the bill again in the Senate to make changes to proposed religious protections.
“I am not saying anything other than that we are going to insist on these amendments, and we are confident that they will succeed,” Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said.
With few sitting days left this term, further amending the bill would almost certainly push it out to after the election.
Religious groups such as the Christian Schools Association (CSA) had supported a proposal to strike out existing laws that allowed schools to discriminate against staff and students on the basis of sexuality.
But they and the government argued there were extra complications in striking out laws allowing schools to discriminate against transgender people on religious grounds
A Labor MP who broke party rules to pass a motion that will investigate serious corruption within Victorian Labor will be thrown out of office.
Upper house MP Kaushaliya Vaghela on Wednesday sensationally crossed the floor to vote in favour of a motion to investigate the infamous Red Shirts scandal for a second time, which was carried 19 votes to 17.
It is against party rules to vote against the party’s position.
The motion, introduced by scorned former Labor MP Adem Somyurek, requested the Ombudsman investigate the role Premier Daniel Andrews had in “designing, propagating and facilitating” the scandal while he was opposition leader in 2014.
Labor MP Kaushaliya Vaghela.
Ms Vaghela was part of Mr Somyurek‘s Moderate Labor faction that has crumbled since he was kicked out of the party.
Following the vote, Ms Vaghela posted a statement on social media, telling her followers branch stacking was “endemic” in the Australian Labor Party.
“I understand it has been for decades, therefore what happened at IBAC was a grave injustice because it was discriminatory,” she said.
“I was a former staff member for the socialist left faction, so I know all about their branch stacking activities and their electorate officers being used for factional purposes.
“If branch stacking and factional operatives working in electorate officers is corrupt, then the socialist left and all the other factions must be investigated.”
Late last year, Ms Vaghela was not re-endorsed for this year’s election.
The Queensland government has issued nearly $18 million in fines to distracted drivers across the state in the first two months of cameras that catch people using mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts in cars.
In November and December last year, 20,646 fines were handed out — 14,856 for people using their phones while driving and 5,760 for seatbelt offences.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey described the numbers as “pretty shocking” and has vowed to roll out even more of the cameras to unspecified locations.
“It is a bit horrifying because, for every single person there that’s looking at their mobile phone, if a child runs in front of them, something happens that they didn’t predict, they’re just not ready for, then there’s a tragedy about to happen,” he said.
The fine for just touching a mobile phone while driving is $1,033 and four demerit points.
Mr Bailey said the substantial fine was a necessary deterrent for drivers, with the state’s road toll already at 32 people.
“We are unashamed about the $1,000 fine for driving distracted, we know it’s exactly the same as driving drunk on the road, the same risk for people.
“If they don’t get the message because they care about other people, then they’re going to get the message because it’s going to hurt the wallet and that’s what it’s designed to do.”
The cameras are currently in use on roads with “bad crash records” but the government plans to change their locations frequently.
“This is like the random breath-testing of mobile phone distraction and seatbelt non-compliance because, wherever you go, at some point, you’re going to get this camera on you and if you’re doing the wrong thing, you’ll get caught.”
The government also plans to introduce more cameras over time.
“We’re not releasing how many cameras, but I can say quite openly, there will be a lot of cameras, adding to the numbers that we’ve got out there at the moment.”
Cameras will continue to be added to the network until the government is satisfied with the behaviour on Queensland roads.
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