Russia, Russia, Russia… When Will You Learn?

Drugs Strike Again for the Russian Olympic Committee


Mia Paulson, Staff Writer/Editor

Kamila Valieva, a 15 year old on the Russian Olympic Committee, failed a doping test by testing positive for banned heart medication weeks before the Olympic games. Even with such an impediment against the rules, she will continue to compete in the Olympics.

Valieva was a favorite for the Beijing games since her first international skating competition, where she set world records and dominated the competition. No one expected her performance from a 15 year old, and everyone got eager to see her compete in THE skating competitions, the Olympics.

Russia has had problems with drug abuse in the Olympics before, and have started to become notorious for their lack of integrity when it comes to illegal substances. The Russian Olympic Committee was temporarily disbanded in 2017, because of their “state-sponsored doping program”, but was deemed allowed back for future competitions in 2018.

Russia’s numerous drug mishaps have resulted in 46 medals being taken away, over 30% of their total medals accumulated. More than 150 athletes from Russia have been caught with doping, the most any country has ever experienced. Yet again, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the country from all sporting events in 2019. After Russia’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), however, they were able to come back after two years instead of the original four, letting them compete in this year’s Olympic games.

After so many mishaps and close-calls for never being able to compete again, one would assume Russia would start to monitor their athletes and push for honor, but alas this year is no different. Valieva’s positive test for illegal drugs made it questionable if she could continue competing in this year’s Olympics, or keep her previously won gold medal, and went under investigation by the CAS. They ruled that she can continue to compete.

Kamila Valieva of Russia trained with her teammates on Sunday in Beijing.
Kamila Valieva during warm ups (Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times)

The ruling was because of her status as a “protected person” under WADA since she is younger than 16 (which, in my opinion, makes it that much more horrifying that she is doing drugs). Because of her status, there are different standards for evidence procedures. Since the timing was so poor and she would not be able to have a trial before the games started, the CAS deemed it unfair to accuse her without any doubts and cancel her opportunity to compete in the games.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is incredibly disappointed in the message that this scandal’s dismissal sends to not only the Russian team but also everyone watching the Olympics. It gives an out to those who are unfairly receiving aid through illegal substance, giving a negative image on the Olympics as a whole.

Valieva will continue to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic games, and will compete in the women’s singles event today.