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Is the Russian Figure Skating System Broken?

The captivating Kamila Valieva broke into tears during her short performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics, her first appearance following the controversial doping accusations made against the Russian figure skating team. She ended up getting the highest score in that category, despite the confusion involving the doping ruling that has deeply affected herself, and all other skaters on her team. The Russian Athletic Establishment is being hardly accused of encouraging young athletes to use doping, putting their well-known reputation at risk.


Valieva took a test and tested positive for banned substances(trimetazidine) in December of 2021. Valieva is stating that the positive test was due to heart medication that she is taking, which is known to “improve stamina”. She is now the center of a scandal that has brought extreme mistrust to Russian Athletes, and measures have already been taken, such as sports organisations calling for reform and medal ceremonies postponed until everything is resolved.


The 15-Year-Old skater is considered to be a skating “phenom”. She, at the age of 15, was the first woman to ever successfully complete a quadruple jump at the Olympics. She is also a key asset to the Russian team when it comes to winning gold medals.


Valieva, although competing under unexpected circumstances and inexplicable pressure, was able to score 82.16, the highest score of the women’s short program. This means that Valieva was automatically qualified for the next free skate events. Valieva, due to the scandal surrounding her, competed with “extraordinary pressure” as claimed by a psychology professor, and techniques made for mindfulness training have been put into place to normalize Valieva’s performance.


The skater was only allowed to compete due to the fact that she is under the age of 16, which essentially removes all the blame from herself. Although Valieva can’t be legally blamed for the use of drugs, other athletes have been vocal about being taught to be aware of any type of substance they use at a young age. Since Valieva can’t be to blame, all heads are turned towards her coach, Eteri Tutberidze. She has been training champions of skating for years on end, and most athletes who worked with her during international competitions, retired shortly after.


Russia has already been in scandals involving doping use in the past. In December of 2019, The World-Anti Doping Agency issued sanctions against Russia, which led to Russian athletes being banned from competing in international competitions for 4 years. Although this sentence timeline was put into place, in the year 2020, the Court of Arbitration of Sport ended up reducing the timeline, and Russia was permitted to participate in competitions as of December 16, 2021.


The result of the free skate wasn’t what was expected. Valieva did not earn a place on the Olympic podium, although 2 other Russian Figure skaters won first and second place. It was extremely difficult to see the winning athlete, Scherbakova, not get the recognition she deserved due to the reconciliation that was needed to be given to other athletes who had lost, including Valieva.


Currently, Tutberidze and the Russian Athletic Establishment are being carefully examined and investigated. Many say that it is almost impossible to imagine a girl as young as Valieva to take an “illicit substance out of their own volition”. It is uncertain to tell if the Russian Figure Skating team is prioritizing the well-being of their athletes, and depending on how the investigation goes, Russia may be sitting out for competitions held in the near future.


Video Of Valieva Performing:



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