Kamila Valieva’s Olympic Scandal

After testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, the 15-year-old Russian figure skater has sparked debates on the accountability of doping in athletes

Caroline Colbath, Viking Voices Co-Editor

In the history of the Olympics, there have been multiple scandals of athletes doping. These scandals have included multiple countries, such as the United States of America, Great Britain, Uzbekistan, Canada, Sweden and many others. However, the country with the most scandals in Olympic history is Russia.  

With 150 competitors caught with banned substances, The Russian Olympic Committee was already on thin ice when Kamila Valieva, a world record-holding Russian figure skater, tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance. Trimetazidine lowers your heart rate, which increases the user’s endurance allowing them to perform better.  

In the wake of the positive drug test, Valieva was still allowed to compete in the Beijing 2022 Olympics, a decision that rivals the case of Sha ‘Carri Richardson. Richardson is an American track and field sprinter who tested positive for THC, a chemical in marijuana, following her competition in the US 2020 Olympic trials. The positive drug test caused Richardson to be disqualified from the games. 

Both THC and trimetazidine are on the list of banned substance in the Olympics, but while one athlete was still allowed to compete, the other was banned from the Olympics altogether. This decision has caused for massive debate in the accountability of doping in athletes. Richardson herself has spoken out about the differences in the scandals. Valieva’s positive test was only revealed after she had won a gold medal, while Richardson’s was immediately revealed to the public.   

Sadie Bowden (10) has watched both the Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing Olympics and was shocked at the result of the two trials.  

“Valieva was on performance enhancers while Richardson was on a drug that did not enhance her performance. Richardson should have been able to run,” Bowden said. “It is unfair that Kamila Valieva continued to compete after taking a performance enhancement drug while Richardson was disqualified.” 

Valieva’s ongoing trial is complicated by the claim that she did not know she was taking a banned substance. Her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, is known for a training regimen that has caused many past skaters to gain injuries or leave the sport. There is speculation that Tutberidze told Valieva to take the heart medication, not revealing that it contained a banned substance to the skater. 

One of the masses who believes that Valieva was unknowingly doped was former Olympic skater Adam Rippon. Rippon stated his opinion on the matter and his disappointment in the test results in an interview with NPR. 

The way that Kamila Valieva was able to skate in that team competition is amazing. Every program she did, I was one of the first people to stand up because I was in awe of what I was seeing. And they ruined that. They ruined that for her, and they ruined it for all of us who really were so excited that there was this incredible talent,” Rippon said. “I doubt very much she knowingly doped. She’s a minor. The adults around her have completely failed her.” 

As a result of previous doping scandals, Russian athletes must compete as part of the Russian Olympic Committee and are barred from displaying the Russian flag or playing the Russian National Anthem. A panel of Judges appointed by the Court Arbitration of Sport declared that banning Valieva from competing would cause the skater “irreparable harm.”  

Valieva’s scandal and trial have challenged the way doping cases are handled in different countries and the Olympics. The trial has sparked debates on whether the punishment should fit the crime or immediate disqualification after a positive test result. 

Sean Foote (10) believes that the punishment depends on the situation, and there should have been a further investigation of Valieva’s doping before she was allowed to compete in the Olympics.  

“I think that she should have been banned from completing in the Olympics,” Foote said. “It is worth investigating the situation to see which drugs where taken and why they were taken to disqualify an athlete from the competition.”