Russian Figure Skater Flops on Ice After Failed Drug Test
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva,15, took fourth place in the Women’s Figure Skating Solo event after a major doping scandal. Valieva was a strong favorite for the gold medal, and projected the Russian Olympic Committee to first place in the team event after becoming the first woman to land two quadruple jumps on Olympic ice. That medal has now been called into question after the skater tested positive for three substances, Hypoxen, L-carnitine, and Trimetazidine. The latter is a banned substance by global anti-doping officials. The International Olympic Committee decided not to award any medals to events in which Valieva places in the top three. The arbitration panel also rejected the American skater’s bid to receive their silver medals before leaving Beijing.
Valieva submitted the sample in December, but Russian anti-doping officials say they only learned of the positive result a week prior.
The three drugs together suggest an attempt to treat the heart, though this is uncommon in an athlete as young as Valieva. Chief executive of the United States anti-doping agency told The New York Times the trifecta “seem to be aimed at increasing endurance, reducing fatigue, and promoting greater efficiency in using oxygen.”
During her hearing with the Russian officials on Feb. 9 Valieva’s mother submitted evidence claiming her daughter had been taking Hypoxen due to heart “variations.”Valieva’s grandfather did not testify at the original hearing in Russia, but according to evidence reviewed by The New York Times, he did submit a video, filmed in a car, telling the camera he takes Trimetazidine periodically when he experienced “attacks,” showing his medication to his viewers.
On Mon. Feb 14, Valieva was cleared to compete by a panel of arbitrators, who ruled that because of her age suspending her before her case was resolved could cause irreparable harm. She placed first in the women’s singles short program, but even though she was a high favorite to win gold, her performance on Thursday was a disappointment to the athlete and her coaching team. She fell on a quad-toe jump, resulting in a score of 224.09, fourth place. Her teammate and training partner, seventeen-year-old Anna Scherbakova ultimately took gold with a final score of 255.95, and another Russian skater, Alexsandra Trusova placed second with a 251.73 score. The final score is determined by a combination of the Freeskate and Short Program, which both include technical and artistic skills.
The scandal has stirred conversation about double standards in athletic communities. Most notably, U.S sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has called out officials on twitter, saying “Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines? My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady,” in a retweet of a USA Today article on Valieva’s allowance to continue skating.
During the 2020 Summer Olympic trials, Richardson won the 100-meter race, but was disqualified when she tested positive for THC, which is found in Marijuana. Both drugs are on the World Anti-doping Agency’s list of banned substances, but only Trimetazidine is performance enhancing. While news Valieva’s December test result leaked because of her performance in the team event, Richardson’s result found its way to the public immediately. “My name & talent was slaughtered to the people,” she told NPR. Richardson brings to light the double standard of letting Valieva skate, but Preventing her from competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the stigma surrounding Marijuana use despite legalization in multiple states.