Olympic Doping Scandal Challenges Morals of the Games

Kamila Valieva is allowed to compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics

Doping and drug use in the modern Olympic Games has been an issue since the first reported doping case in 1904. Since then there have been many more incidents of drugs and doping in athletes, despite the introduction of drug testing in the 1968 Mexico City games. Recently, there has been much controversy with the 2022 Winter Olympic doping scandal involving Russian Figure Skater, Kamila Valieva.

   The 15 year old was the predicted gold medalist in women’s figure skating.

   Valieva tested positive for Trimetazidine, a performance enhancing heart drug, in December. The results didn’t come back until February, when the 15 year old was already in Beijing. This issue was taken to the Olympic Board, where Valieva’s lawyer defended her case, saying that she consumed the drug secondhand from eating off the same plate or drinking from the same glass as her grandfather who was prescribed the drug.

   It was concluded that Valieva was allowed to still compete in her events, although if she had placed a gold, silver, or bronze medal, there wouldn’t have been a medal ceremony. 

   After a shocking and uncharacteristic skate by Valieva in the Women’s Free Skate finals, she placed 4th after falling multiple times, leaving the ice distraught. 

   The public has been criticizing this choice by the Olympic Committee as well as the Russian team for keeping her out on the ice and letting her participate, both for the fairness of the game, and her mental wellbeing. 

   American runner Sha’Carri Richardson has spoken out on this choice to let Valieva compete, after the runner was kept from competing in the Olympics last summer. Richardson tested positive for the use of marijuana, following the death of her mother. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug, however it is banned by the IOC. Richardson spoke out about how she saw keeping Valieva in the Olympics was a matter of race, seeing the double standard as Valieva, a white woman, was able to still compete, while she, a black woman, was pulled from the games.

   Furthermore, reporters and the public have criticized the choice of Russia to keep Kamila Valieva in the games, especially after seeing the mental state she was in after her last game. Taking the 15 year old out of the games would have taken some pressure off of her and protected her mental health, knowing that the media would have affected her mindset.

   Going past these Beijing games, addressing the bigger picture of the drug and doping problem and how these cases are handled in the Olympics is an important issue. Drug use, athletes being taken out of the games, and getting medals recalled is more and more common, meaning a stronger movement against these issues needs to be implemented.