Winter Olympics Controversy

Kamila Valieva

Source: Wikimedia Commons user Luu

Kamila Valieva Preforming

Julissa Guevara-Lopez

Kamila Valieva, a 15 years old Russian figure skater, tested positive for a drug test. The drug was known as trimetazidine and is mainly used as a medication to treat heart and chest pain for older people. The drug has also been known to help improve athletic performance by increasing blood flow to the heart which helps with endurance. It is not recommended for people under the age of 18 to use because of its side effects which include dizziness, headaches, and an increase or decrease in heart rate. The drug is now illegal in the U.S but is still used in Europe. In 2014 it became officially illegal for athletes to use trimetazidine in and out of competitions.

Valieva had taken a drug test on December 25, 2021 however the Swedish Laboratory that was assigned to analyze the sample did not report her results until February 8, 2022. She had already won first place in the individual competition and then was still allowed to compete in Tuesday’s individual competition. She then placed in the top standings in the women’s short program. Valieva’s lawyer states that the medication had belonged to Valievas grandfather but somehow Valieva had gotten contaminated with the medication by “sipping from the same glass of water as her grandfather.” However, this may not be possible because trimetazidine is usually taken as a pill. Unless they took the pill and dissolved it in the water, Kamila Valieva could not have been accidentally contaminated by taking a sip.

Sha’carri Richardson is an American Track and field sprinter who competes in the 100 and 200 meters. As a freshman at Louisiana State University, Richardson ran 10.75 seconds to break the 100-meter record at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships. She was going to compete in the Tokyo Olympics but she was suspended and taken off the team for consuming marijuana after finding out about her mother’s death. Richardson in response said “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.” Richardson said. She then tweeted “Can we get a solid answer on the difference” and then added, “It’s all in the skin”.

Richardson finds the case as a double standard. Claiming that since she is black she is getting treated differently than white people. Richardson did get a more harsh consequence for taking a drug that would have not helped her perform meanwhile Valieva was getting another chance even though the drug could have helped her performance and it was illegal. Many people find that since Valieva is only 15 she doesn’t deserve a severe consequence. Her coach Eteri Tutberidze has been known to do everything in her power to win. Others suspect that Valieva had been forced to take a drug to not risk losing. The main reason why she was still able to compete was that the judging panel said that it wasn’t her fault the laboratory did not report the results until after her performance.

Kamila is not the first Russian athlete to test positive for trimetazidine. Nadezhda Sergeeva was disqualified in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics only two days before her bobsledding race. She had an interview and was wearing a t-shirt that said “I don’t do doping”. Doping is a term used to refer to the use of illegal drugs in competitive sports. However, she failed her doping test and tested positive for trimetazidine. She was the second Russian athlete to test positive for a banned drug at this specific Olympic game including Alexander Krushelnitsky. This shows that Russians have a history of using performance-enhancing drugs to help with competitions.

Overall, we are still unsure if Kamila was accidentally contaminated with trimetazidine by her grandfather or if she had taken it on purpose to help with her performance. But what we do know is that she was still able to compete despite testing positive for an illegal drug.