Russian Olympic Committee skates into scandal

In 2017, Russia was banned from the Olympics due to being caught in a doping scheme. Though Olympic viewers believed this would influence Russia to discontinue their habits given the fact that this hasn’t been their first time caught in a drugging scheme, Russia has once again, been caught. While strategies have been able to remove some athletes from the games, there are still situations in which drug use is almost waved away, and supposed repercussions become unfair.

Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old figure skater in the 2022 Olympics, competing on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), was caught with three substances in her system, one of which was banned from the games. Despite the drug, trimetazidine, being banned from the games, the Olympic panel allowed the skater to continue competing in the skating section due to claims regarding the skater supposedly being unaware that the drug was in her system and because not participating in the games could have the potential to cause Valieva irreplaceable harm, as the panel claimed.

Many viewers of the Olympics believe that due to the skater’s age, the excuse regarding Valieva’s age justifying her supposed lack of awareness is valid; however, we believe otherwise. Although we do not necessarily doubt the fact that Valieva was unaware of the drugs entering her system, the fact that she was still able to compete is simply unacceptable. Most athletes who compete in the Olympics train from numerous years or their whole lives, therefore when some athletes are excluded from the games after being accepted into them, there is a feeling of sympathy from viewers. However, this empathy is not known to often exclude many other athletes from the repercussions of breaking the rules.

Sha’Carri Richardson, however, was not given sympathy when she was caught with THC, a chemical found in cannabis that is not an endurance-enhancing drug, in her system which led to her disqualification in the 2021 Olympic games in track and field. Richardson, a 21-year-old woman of color who has received world-wide attention due to breaking numerous world records in track and field, accepted her suspension in mid June of 2021. In response to the decision to keep Valieva in the competition despite positive drug tests, Richardson tweeted, “The only difference I see is I’m a Black young lady” on Feb. 14, 2022.

There is an obvious act of hypocrisy at hand. Following the decision to allow Valieva to compete, people around the world, Olympic athletes and Olympics audiences alike, agree with the fact that this decision is not only an injustice to those who have trained their whole lives, and have refrained from using endurance-enhancing substances, but the fact that it also demonstrates a stark contrast in the way athletes of color are treated compared to the Russian skater. Although the skater did not receive winning titles following competing in her section, the decision alone continues to pose numerous issues within the Olympic Panel that need to be resolved.