The Doping Scandal That Left the Figure Skating World Reeling

Kamila Valieva Tests Positive for Doping, at 15 Years of Age

By: Gabriell Kleydman

Kamila Valieva Looking Exhausted from Practice Skate | New York Post

Just when the world thought that everything was going smoothly at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, Russian Olympic Committee favorite to win gold in Ladies Figure Skating, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, tested positive for doping.

It’s almost not a surprise that this athlete is from Russia, a country known to have gotten into heaps of trouble in past Olympics for using and abusing banned substances.

In terms of figure skating Maria Sotskova, a ROC figure skater that competed in PyeongChang 2018, was banned from competing internationally for ten years after an illegal diuretic called furosemide was found in her system after a drug test was conducted. Keep in mind that she was 18 years of age, and no longer a minor.

That’ll be a crucial point when discussing Kamila’s case of doping later on.

Russia has been under fire for many previous Olympics, and it was even publicized that it ran a state-owned doping program, which was supposedly taken down in 2016 after information came out about the fact that there was a plan that was formulated to dope Russian track and field athletes that competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 

In recent Olympics, of the 389 athletes that Russia wanted to send to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, 278 were cleared of any substances, and the remaining 111 were positive.

In 2018, 43 athletes were banned from competing in all future Olympic Games of which 42 appealed their cases to CAS (Court of Appealed Sports) and only 28 were successful, with only 168 athletes competing at the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

Kamila Valieva, current European and Russian National Champion, received the result of a drug test on February 8th that she took prior to winning Russian Nationals on December 25th. It came back positive for an illegal performance enhancing substance called trimetazidine. 

Known worldwide as TMZ, it is capable of increasing a person’s endurance, and in the case of Valieva, would allow her to skate and practice for longer periods of time.

The caveat in all of this, and something to keep in mind when mulling through what is known, is that Kamila is fifteen years of age, and was fifteen when she took the drug test, and so therefore is still a minor.

No one really knows the answer to whether or not she was aware at the time that she was taking TMZ, and so many believe that she isn’t at fault, but instead those adults around her should take responsibility.

The limelight turns then to her coaching camp, Sambo 70, in particular Eteri Tutberidze, and the doctor in charge of many figure skating athletes in Russia, Filipp Shvetsky. The world is currently split, many thinking that Shvetsky and her coaches agreed on giving her the drug without her knowledge (for what reason it is still unknown) or Kamila herself being knowledgeable that she was indeed taking a drug that athletes have been banned from competing in the past.

And yet, in one of the few public comments Eteri Tutberidze, head coach at Sambo 70, gave was that she was absolutely certain that Kamila was clean.

Then how did the drug miraculously end up in her system?

As of recently, there have been claims coming out that traces of TMZ were passed from Kamila’s grandfather’s saliva to Kamila when they drank from the same cup (due to a heart implant, he takes TMZ), but even something like that sounds outlandish to the most informed. 

As a result of this positive test, the Team Event Gold medal that the ROC won on February 8th, is in talks of being stripped from them; a medal ceremony has yet to be held. If the medal is taken away from the ROC, the USA will win their first gold Team medal, Japan will move up to silver, and Canada will take bronze.

Following the team event, the world waited as the CAS appointed a panel of judges to determine whether or not Kamila could compete in the individual Ladies Event which began on February 15th. They came to the conclusion, just mere hours before the event, that it would be “unfair and cause irreparable damage to Valieva if she were barred from Olympic competition”.

Because she is a minor, is considered a “protected person”, and also did not test positive for the drug during the Olympics, the CAS determined her eligible to compete, which set the figure skating world into a frenzy.

Does it really come down to just her age that allowed her to compete? Was it a fudged drug test or did she really test positive?

Why would anyone do this to a fifteen-year-old, a practical child, who was the posed favorite going into this 2021-2022 season to win practically every senior competition including the Olympics if she herself wasn’t supposedly knowledgeable? 

There are many questions that a case like this brings up, and as a result, very few answers.

What the world does know though, is that whatever reputation she had upheld before has shattered, and as a result now needs to answer for the mistakes of the adults around her.

Categories: Sports

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