One of the biggest controversies of the 2022 Beijing Olympics took a new turn on Monday as 15-year-old Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) despite failing a pre-Games doping test.
"The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances," CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said.
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, which is prescribed to treat chest pain, at the Russian national qualifying event on Dec. 25 but her positive test went unrevealed until the Beijing Olympics started. The 15-year-old helped the ROC win gold in the women’s team event, where she became the first woman in Olympic history to land a quadruple jump on Feb. 6.
CAS decision: Kamila Valieva is allowed to compete. What a dark day this is for the fight against doping in sports.
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 14, 2022
Although Valieva has been reinstated by the CAS and will compete in the women’s singles event, which finishes Thursday, there will be no medal ceremony held for her if she places in the top three.
The world of figure skating reacted with near-unanimous outrage to the CAS’s decision:
Adam Rippon, a former U.S. figure skater who won bronze during the PyeongChang Olympics in the team event, posted a six-tweet thread, writing that allowing Valieva to compete would threaten the integrity of the entire Beijing Olympics by accommodating an athlete with a failed doping test.
I am so angry. The ladies event tomorrow is a complete joke. It’s not a real competition and it most likely won’t even have a medal ceremony. So many Olympic experiences stolen from clean athletes who got here without the help of performance enhancing drugs. What a shame.
— Adam Rippon (@AdamRippon) February 14, 2022
Rippon’s fellow 2018 teammate and bronze medalist Bradie Tennell also shared a similar message about how the decision presented an attack on the sport’s reputation.
Former U.S. Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, one of the breakout stars of the Nagano Olympics in 1998, also vehemently disagreed with the decision and said Valieva’s age shouldn’t have been considered.
I strongly disagree with this decision. At the end of the day, there was a positive test and there is no question in my mind that she should not be allowed to compete. Regardless of age or timing of the test/results. I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport.
— Tara Lipinski (@taralipinski) February 14, 2022
Former Canadian Olympic gold medalist and two-time pairs world champion Meagan Duhamel shared Rippon and Tennell’s sentiments, adding that she wants nothing to do with the sport if doping is allowed. Duhamel also felt the decision to punish teams that competed against Valieva — particularly the U.S. and Japan — deserved the right to their own medal ceremonies.
How is anyone going to take the women’s event seriously now? We were just told illegal drugs and abuse are okay. If that is what this sport is about now, I want nothing to do with it.
February 14 2022. The day the Olympic spirit died.
— Meagan Duhamel (@mhjd_85) February 14, 2022
I will stand up, even if I’m standing alone, to demand a team medal ceremony for the athletes from the USA and Japan. @ISU_Figure @iocmedia Do not punish them for this. Let them have their moment. https://t.co/5HdUROh6Gg
— Meagan Duhamel (@mhjd_85) February 14, 2022
Many U.S. figure skaters drew comparisons to teammate Jessica Calalang’s anti-doping suspension, applied by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in February 2021, before the 2021 national championships. Calalang’s suspension was overturned in September 2021, after 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (4-CPA), the banned substance, was found to be commonly found in cosmetic products she was using.
Calalang said she was traumatized by the suspension and many of her teammates found the CAS decision to be hypocritical. As for Calalang, she also pointed out that it took months for her to appeal her suspension, whereas Valieva’s case was addressed imminently.
Jessica was suspended for MONTHS. Protocol can change from athlete to athlete??? NO. https://t.co/uTm2VnWcUx
— Mirai Nagasu (@mirai_nagasu) February 14, 2022
At this point, I feel numb. This will leave a permanent scar on this sport. You have athletes that are competing under two different systems, and we saw that today. THAT is not fair, raise the age minimum so we can all play on the same terms. This is not the call.
— Ashley Wagner (@AshWagner2010) February 14, 2022
It wasn’t just winter athletes weighing in, either. Sha’Carri Richardson, who was poised to contend for the women’s world 100m track and field crown last summer, tested positive for THC metabolites and was suspended for one month by USADA on June 28, forcing her to miss the Olympics. Richardson said she used marijuana to cope with her mother’s recent death and believes that her case was treated differently than Valieva’s because she’s Black.
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. https://t.co/JtUfmp3F8L
— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) February 14, 2022
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