Drugs, Cruel Coaches, and the Media’s POV: The story of Kamila Valieva at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Drugs, Cruel Coaches, and the Media’s POV: The story of Kamila Valieva at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Kamila Valieva is a 15-year-old Russian figure skater who currently holds the title of 2022 European champion, 2021 Rostelecom Cup champion, 2021 Skate Canada International champion, 2022 Russian national champion and 2021 Russian National silver medalist. Beyond this, she’s also a 2022 Olympic champion who led the ROC team to gold. However, during the 2022 Winter Olympics, the urine sample that Valieva submitted for a drug test in December tested positive for a drug that is banned in sports competition as it increases endurance. The world has been shaken by yet another doping incident on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee. But was it truly the 15-year-old athlete’s fault and most importantly, should she have been allowed to continue skating?

Prior to the Winter Games, the teenage figure skater tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance that helps with heart muscle function, NBC Sports reported. For athletes, the substance may be used to speed up one’s heart rate and improve endurance. Since then, a review from the Court of Arbitration deemed Valieva clear to compete in the remainder of the Olympic Games, despite her positive drug test in December; the main argument for this is that because of her status as a minor, she should not be held responsible. Could the ROC have found a loophole in Valieva’s age? NBC says that “the International Olympic Committee has since decided there will not be a medal ceremony for figure skating in case Valieva is permanently banned after the doping investigation is completed. The Committee said ceremonies would be held at a future date.” This particular verdict heavily affected the entire figure skating community as some believe that neither Valieva nor her coaches should have been so easily pardoned. 

Furthermore, people have reason to believe that Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze might have a part in the doping charge, as this is one of the many accusations launched against the Russian Olympic Committee team. The Associated Press reported that “Eteri Tutberidze, who’s coached Olympic athletes for three consecutive Games, has been the subject of criticism over how she treats Russian athletes, many of whom have had short careers, retiring early due to injuries”. 

In fact, it was during Valieva’s final competition at the Olympics, in the free skate category, that the young figure skater seemed to succumb to the pressure as she fell several times, dropping her to fourth place overall. Despite having entered the competition in the lead, previously having finished first in the short program. According to The NY Post, “As she joined her coach off the ice, Eteri Tutberidze, a former skater who is notoriously exacting, she was berated. Tutberidze reportedly chided the 15-year-old, saying, ‘Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting?’” 

In the public eye, fellow figure skaters, Olympians and more have all shared their opinion about Kamila Valieva and the decision to let the ROC athlete continue to compete. For instance, American figure skater Tara Lipinski took to Twitter and wrote, “I strongly disagree with this decision. At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete. Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.” Also, Johnny Weir (American figure skater) stated, “I can’t condone the decision. There was a positive drug test, therefore the athlete who tested positive, at fault or not, regardless of age or timing of test/result, should not be allowed to compete against clean athletes.” Additionally, sports columnist Christine Brennan commented, “CAS decision: Kamila Valieva is allowed to compete. What a dark day this is for the fight against doping in sports.”

After all that has been said about the incident regarding Kamila Valieva, the world is both angered and curious about the true reality behind the 15-year-old’s doping scandal, and how this will affect the reputation of the ROC in the future. The facts have been laid out and the media has stated its opinion. As we close the doors to the 2022 Beijing Olympics, we are faced with the following question: what will happen to the 15-year-old Russian prodigy Kamila Valieva?


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