I know this is going to be a hugely unpopular opinion, but I do not think that Kamila Valieva should be allowed to skate in the Olympics while waiting for a hearing on her drug test.
And I know this is going to result in me being accused of being mean to a child, but hear me out.
No, Valieva is Probably Not the Responsible Party
She’s 15. She may not even know she was given the drug. She may have been told it was vitamins.
I was 15 once. We all were. Maybe she does know and understand what’s going on, but the truth is that it’s a very vulnerable age. Young athletes are far too often abused and exploited.
I feel terrible for her.
I really do and I feel terrible that her Olympic dreams have been ruined. Yet, I’m not going to budge.
She should not be allowed to skate.
And here’s why.
If She Was an Adult…
…then she wouldn’t be allowed to skate. She’s being given leeway because she’s a minor, so she’s not responsible.
So, what message does this send to those behind the Russian doping program?
It sends the message that they can get away with it with minors.
Think about that for a moment.
Giving performance enhancing drugs to teenagers should be a crime. It should never be rewarded. It should never be something you can get away with.
The fact that Valieva is a minor does not make this better. It makes it worse. A lot worse.
We have been letting the Russians get away with far too much. In my mind, they should have been properly banned, not just the slap on the wrist semi ban of not being allowed to fly their flag.
Far too much. And now we have people giving a geriatric heart medication to a teenager without any regard for her future. To win a medal.
Letting her skate, even with the note that she won’t get a medal unless she’s cleared, sends a message that even if you get caught, the sanctions won’t be that bad.
Should Valieva be Banned?
Only until she’s clean from the drug. She’s a talented skater who almost certainly doesn’t need it.
But here is the punishment I want to see.
I want to see a lifetime ban from international competition at all levels…
…for her coach.
When a minor tests positive for drugs, ban their coach. That’s the only way I can see to stop this from happening over and over again to even more kids.
And yes, for life, because yes, I am that tired of this kind of thing happening.