Kamila Valieva Lands Quad Now Faces Doping Controversy

The young star finds herself caught in a scandal that threatens to overshadow her incredible performances

Hannah Ross
25th February 2022
Twitter: @olympics
15-year-old Kamila Valieva wowed both judges and spectators on Tuesday, landing the first quad ever to be performed by a female figure skater in the Winter Olympics and winning team figure skating gold medal for the Russian Olympic Committee. Despite her senior debut being less than six months ago, Valieva successfully landed a phenomenal quad salchow in her routine followed by a flawless quad toe loop. Although tumbling a third quad, there are only three females to ever attempt a single quadruple at the Winter Olympics, proving her exceptional skill. In the end, she scored a total of 178.92 – 30 points more than second place Japanese Kaori Sakamoto, making coach Eteri Tutberidze proud.

Quads consist of four complete rotations of the body in mid-air and are an impressive feat for any figure skater and are a rare sight, but Valieva has been performing them regularly in competition this season. The young skater is a consistent record setter in her short time on the scene. Even in her debut at the CS Finlandia Trophy she set a world record. She has followed this by breaking records in free skate and combined total as well as becoming the first woman to score over 90 points in the short program at the Europeans last month, setting another world record of 90.45.

the first woman to score over 90 points in the short program at the Europeans last month, setting another world record of 90.45.

Since these incredible achievements, Kamila now finds herself at the centre of a doping controversy. It came to light after her performance on Tuesday that she had tested positive in a drug test for trimetazidine – a drug that helps prevent angina attack but has also shown evidence of improving physical endurance and has been on the list of prohibited drugs in the Olympics since 2014. Valieva was immediately suspended but has since requested an appeal that they await the results of and will determine whether she is permitted to compete in the individuals event this Tuesday.

Interestingly, the test was taken several weeks ago back in December, yet the results were only divulged after she had won the ROC the gold medal. This has raised questions as to why Russian officials allowed her to compete after performing this drug test. It comes after Russia’s ban from the previous Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, in which an investigation had ruled there had been state-sponsored doping whilst hosting the game in Sochi in 2014. Russia had been given permission to enter the Olympics this year under the Russian Olympic Committee, provided there was no connection involved to the previous doping scandals. Now, their reputation hangs in the balance.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, Valieva continued her training along with her teammates, whilst they and Russian officials have refused to comment on the situation. The world awaited the Court of Arbitration for Sport's results with anticipation and suspense.

Update written 14th February:

The CAS have allowed Valieva to skate in the ladies' singles event. This decision was met with heavy criticism from the public, especially with how US runner Sha'Carri Richardson's marijuana case was handled. Richardson, favourite to win the 100m track, tested positive for THC. The sprinter explained that it was for personal use to cope with the passing of her mother. Despite not being officially barred from the Games, she was left off the relay team.

This sparks the debate of why Valieva's case is any different. As she is under sixteen, she is a 'protected person', someone less likely to be severely punished for doping. The public has called out against the actions of her coaches, but unfortunately the only person that can be punished in this scenario will be the athlete herself.

Valieva will continue her bid for a second gold medal, but if she successfully claims a step on the podium, there will be no medal ceremony, even for the other two, and an alternative will be arranged.

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