During the 2022 Olympics, a doping scandal erupted involving 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, a Russian figure skater, who failed her drug test due to a performance-enhancing drug. When she was questioned, her lawyers argued that she mistakenly took her grandfather’s heart medication, causing the failed drug test to occur. Nevertheless, she was still allowed to compete in the Olympics. Her age protected her. Valieva was, for the most part, not supported by the media or her country throughout the scandal, as an Olympian taking performance-enhancing drugs causes much controversy. Similar situations have been seen with many other athletes.
It was evident that Valieva was not on her A-game during the 2022 games when she had more than one lackluster performance. She stumbled, fell, and showed other instances in which she lacked “talent.” The Washington Post addressed the current event, when they wrote, “The tragedy of Valieva’s Olympics was reflected in what happened after the teenage girl left the rink sobbing.” They went on to say, “Her loss, and her emotional backstage breakdown, focused attention on a deeper and more persistent question: What are sports doing to their young sequined athletes — their figure skaters and gymnasts? If an extra half-rotation can be achieved by a 15-year-old, but not a 19-year-old, how much do we need that extra half-rotation?”
The circumstances were different when it came to Sha'Carri Richardson, a track Olympian who tested positive for the use of marijuana. Richardson, as opposed to Valieva, was not allowed to compete in the Olympic races. Marijuana is not a performance enhancer, and Richardson’s story caused a lot of discussions, much tying back to race. Considering Valieva was allowed to compete despite testing positive for performance enhancers, there is a serious question raised about the reasoning, and the differences between these two Olympians.