Kamila Valieva was just a pawn in the game of nations.Image: Getty Images
What a farce the International Olympic Committee has made of the Games this year. By not installing real sanctions against Russia for institutionalizing a surreptitious doping program in Sochi, and by not barring an athlete who tested positive for a banned substance, we were witness to the oddest of Olympic spectacles Thursday.
There was 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, the next-level skater at the center of a controversy after having three different heart medications in her test sample, breaking down in tears after finishing out of the medals in the free skate competition after finishing first in the women’s short program. Her failure to medal in free skate was the only reason the event could have a medal ceremony during the games after the Court of Arbitration ruled that Valieva could compete anyway due to her age and the irreparable harm that would be caused if she didn’t skate.
As for the irreparable harm the Court was trying to avoid, that ship has sailed. It was clear from the look on Valieva’s face that this teenager will never be the same.
Even IOC president Thomas Bach commented on how frosty the Russian entourage was to Valieva after she went from favored to fourth in the free skate.
“Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance,” Bach said.
The skating community has been outraged by the events. Because even though the rules to ensure clean competition can be cumbersome, every other skater complied with them and didn’t have a positive test.
Here’s a good explainer from ABC about how we got here.
From ESPN’s report on the test: “Valieva has claimed the trimetazidine entered her system accidentally. But the World Anti-Doping Agency filed a brief stating that two other substances she acknowledged taking, L-carnitine and Hypoxen — though both legal — undercut the argument that a banned substance could have been ingested in error.”
If the IOC really wants to avoid irreparable harm to young skaters like Valieva, it has to completely eradicate the…