You think you have had a stressful day? Imagine training for months on end only to be watched for 5 minutes by millions of viewers, while judges strictly nitpick every one of your imperfections. All this while being as young as 15 years old. Since the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, eyes have been glued on figure skating, specifically women’s singles. Simultaneously, it was discovered that 15 year old Kamila Valieva, who was favored to win the gold medal, received a positive test for having trimetazidine in her system on February 8th, 2022. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency called to impose an automatic provisional suspension on Valieva. However, Valieva appealed the decision and it was overturned and lifted a day later, which allowed her to continue to compete at the games. She was in the Olympic spotlight for weeks negotiating with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who officially cleared her to compete.
In the height of what was called her “doping scandal”, many took to social media to voice their opinions. Many were quick to say that Valieva should not have been allowed to compete once she tested positive. Some were even suspicious enough to question whether Kamila Valieva fell on purpose to not receive backlash for her win. The media kept a close eye and wanted to see her fail, and she did. During her final individual performance, she fell twice due to the pressure, which landed her in fourth place. Unfortunately, she was just short of making the podium. Kamila still took to Instagram to thank every one of her supporters and express how grateful she was for this opportunity.
Now, more news has surfaced regarding the coaches’ treatment of young women athletes publicly, specifically Valieva’s coach Eteri Tuteridze. In my opinion, the likelihood that Valieva was aware of the trimetazidine in her system is slim to none, and it is the coaches who are responsible due to her young age. 2018 Olympic Gold medalist Meagan Duhamel seems to agree with me, stating in a Rolling Stone article that she believes “They were given to her by people around her.” To me, I believe that it was Eteri Tutberidze herself who was directly involved with her positive test result because she has a history of controversial teaching methods. Regardless of the circumstances and lack of formal investigation, there needs to be a better system in place to protect the psychological and mental strain of young athletes in Olympic sports.