courtesy @Olympics_Russia on Twitter

Kamila Valieva tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Sports editor Callie Hummel discusses the Olympic figure skater who tested positive for trimetazidine.

The eyes of the world were on Kamila Valieva this Winter Olympics, but not for her gracefulness on the ice, or for being the first woman to master a quadruple spin. Instead, her name is in headlines around the world because once again, a young and successful Russian athlete is involved in a doping scandal — at 15-years-old.

Kamila Valieva is a Russian figure skater who has proven her spot in the skating world, drawing compliments from other competitors around the world. On Feb. 8, four days after the 2022 Games began, Valieva received a positive drug test back from the World Anti-Doping Agency. The test was originally completed on Dec. 25 by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency but after the positive result, they had to send it on for clarification. The agencies claimed the tardiness of the test results was because of COVID. Valieva’s results indicated traces of trimetazidine (TMZ), which confused many professionals since the drug’s enhancing capabilities are limited. TMZ is given to patients dealing with chest pain because of a lack of blood supply and oxygen to the heart. The drug could potentially be used by athletes as performance-enhancing since it helps the body use oxygen, improving stamina and can help ease chest pains. Currently, Valieva’s lawyers are claiming her grandfather takes this medication and she was exposed after drinking from the same water glass. This claim, though, is very flimsy and the scenario is seemingly impossible according to the medical world.

When her test results came back, the Olympic Committee immediately took action to create a fair playing field for the athletes. Still investigating the situation, they allowed Valieva to continue competing but delayed all medal ceremonies that she might be in. On Feb. 17 Valieva, a previous favorite for gold, competed then quickly dropped down in the rankings due to numerous mistakes, falls and a sense of overall anxiety on the ice. She fell from the number one spot down to number four and did not place for a medal. Valieva left the ice bawling, obviously affected by all of the news and controversy swarming around her name. Many might not feel sorry for Valieva, as she was the one to consume a known-illegal drug, and Thuan Le Elston even started off her USA today article with, “I have never wanted a 15-year-old to fail so much in my life.” At 15-years-old, Valieva is plenty old enough to know the differences between right and wrong, and that her actions will have consequences — but is she old enough to stand up for herself against her parents who gave up so much for her and her world-renowned coaches?

Valieva has always wanted to be great, and that’s what everyone expected from her. She said during an interview that at the age of four, Valieva told her parents she was going to be an Olympian. From that day forward, her parents did anything they could to help her achieve that dream. When parents sacrifice so much for their child and pay thousands a year for the best coaches, it’s inevitable that the child might feel the need to repay them with success. If Valieva already felt in debt to her parents and a coach mentioned performance-enhancing drugs could make her great, would Valieva feel an overwhelming pressure to take the drug? Whether or not it was Valieva’s idea to take TMZ, her coaches, parents, mentors, and other adults in her life should be protecting her and wanting the best for her and letting the 15-year-old consume drugs is definitely not having her best intentions in mind.

TMZ is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18 and isn’t currently cleared to be used in the United States. While the drug already has a long list of side effects, the reaction for minors is even more prominent and severe, most notably involving dizziness, lightheadedness and loss of balance. As a skater performing leaps and spins in the air and balancing on a single skinny blade, these side effects could be detrimental, if not fatal, to Valieva if they were to show up while performing. On a normal day, Valieva might not land a jump right and tweak her leg on the way down. If overcome with dizziness and loss of balance, one wrong move could bring her down to the ice causing a more serious injury if she landed on her upper body or head.

At the end of the Winter Olympics, everyone will know Valieva’s name because of the doping scandal. Her social media will, for years after, be flooded with opinions and negative remarks. Her future performances will all be taken with a grain of salt, spectators continuing to entertain the idea she might be on performance-enhancers. However, nobody will remember the lawyer’s name who told her to lie about the medicine being from her grandfather or the coach’s name who pushed Valieva towards doping, or the mentors that turned a blind eye to the drugs. The incident will go on to affect many other young skaters as well, as the Olympic Committee is now looking into pushing back the minimum age to compete in the Games from 15 to 17 to avoid incidents like this. These young athletes have found their passion at a young age and show indisputable levels of disciple and dedication to something. While kids who are working towards their dreams are being punished, the mentors who are allowing things like this to happen are unaffected.

Post Author: Callie Hummel