Kamila Valieva And The World of Olympic Athletes
The Winter Olympics, which had controversies even before its start, has added yet another one to the list. Russian skater, Kamila Valieva, has recently tested positive for the drug Trimetazidine, sparking conflicts concerning her eligibility to continue skating and even potential disqualification. A disqualification would eliminate the Russian Olympic Committee out of gold in the team event, in doing so it would push the United States, Japan, and Canada to the top three, respectively.
Prior to the positive test, the fifteen-year-old skater was a force to be reckoned with. She made a historic jump at this year’s competition: she was the first woman skater to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics. Her remarkably young age leaves much promise in the future, however, this could be her last time seen at the Olympics. Not only could the drug use destroy her reputation and therefore block her from returning, but also her coach has a history of training young prodigies who only appear at the Olympics once. From injuries to abusive diets and exercise, her coach’s methods create a recurring pattern of one-timers. In addition to that, the coach can also be blamed for her drug use.
Trimetazidine, a drug used to increase heart efficiency and endurance, is not purchasable by a minor, so many believe the coach is responsible for her positive test. If this is true, then Valieva’s coach could be facing Russian penalties regarding anti-doping laws. The performance enhancer is not something new to the skating world and has been seen as one of the answers to how 12-15 year-olds can land these seemingly impossible quadruple axles. Unfortunately, Valieva’s case is not unique when it comes to high-performing athletes, but her case does highlight the abusive pattern of coaching we see Olympic athletes endure. With the Olympics only coming around every four years it is important to act quickly and recognize how these young athletes are being taken advantage of for the sake of winning. With instances like the Karolyi’s Ranch, concerning the United States Gymnastic team, it is imperative the Olympic Committee takes better measures to ensure these athletes are happy and healthy.
Not only are some of these athletes being mistreated, but many also suffer immense emotional stress from the pressure of performing well for their country. Further, this stress can make them susceptible to manipulation or blindness to their wellbeing. Just this past summer we saw Simone Biles drop out of the summer Olympics due to mental health issues. Luckily, she was able to put her needs first and prioritize herself. In doing so she kept herself safe from possibly inflicting career-ending injuries which are due to happen when performing high stake moves in a poor mental space. Her dropping out caused an uproar in mental health advocation for athletes. Hopefully, for Kamila Valieva her controversy can similarly bring awareness to the manipulation and abuse young athletes face. At her young age, she cannot be blamed for the drug use and is instead another victim of her coach’s abusive training regime. Let the scandal not be a political tool but a means to bring attention to the lack of resources in place to help young athletes.