Kamila Valieva Competes at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Image Courtesy of Forbes

By Zachary Lichter

On February 14, Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was cleared to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics after having previously tested positive for a banned substance called trimetazidine at the Russian nationals on December 25, 2021. 

Valieva had to wait six weeks before being cleared to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), an institution created by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), released a statement that because she is a minor at fifteen years old, she is still considered a “protected person, ” and she thus has different rules to follow compared to an adult athlete competing at the Olympics. She came in fifth place on Thursday, February 17, competing in the Women’s Free Skate. If she had reached a technical score that was eligible for a gold medal, there would be no medal ceremony for her.

Approximately an hour after the headline was released announcing that Valieva was cleared to compete in the Winter Olympics, NBC’s primetime host Mike Tirico interviewed former U.S. figure skaters and analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir about CAS’s decision. Both objected to the verdict on Valieva and talked about their own experiences as Olympians. Lipinski spoke about how she had to submit drug tests at age fifteen when she competed for and won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. She even mentioned that when she was competing, she was scared of eating a poppy seed bagel because it could have affected her drug tests. Meanwhile, Weir explained how he ensured that none of the banned substances were in the medications he took whenever he was sick. He also mentioned that he always had to submit drug tests in and out of competition.

Since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the IOC learned that Russian athletes supported a state-run doping program. This scandal led to the IOC banning Russia from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics under the Russian flag. Athletes now have to compete under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee until October 16, 2022. The Russian figure skaters have always been known for how well they perform their quads. However, does this  raise a question if the quads they perform are enhanced by doping?

“Performance-enhancing drugs tend to increase strength and endurance,” said freshman musical theater major Gabriel Blank. “Therefore, it would stand to reason that they would help someone to jump higher, and so they’d be useful for jumping both in ballet and in figure skating.”

As the 2022 Winter Olympics came to a close on Sunday, February 20, there will be much speculation on Russia’s future regarding the Olympics. The Russians have continually added to their reputation for doping through their behavior in the last four Olympics. The question is whether the world will hear about a Russian athlete being involved with a doping allegation between the 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2024 Summer Olympics.


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