In this year’s Winter Olympics, we saw the controversy around the Russian figure skating team. Fifteen-year-old skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for Trimetazidine, classified as a performance-enhancing drug that increases blood flow to the heart, and was still allowed to compete in the Olympic events.
A similar situation occurred at last year’s Summer Olympics with track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson when she tested positive for marijuana, which is not classified as performance-enhancing. Richardson was ultimately not allowed to compete while Valieva was.
Valieva would go on to take home a gold medal in the figure skating team event and place fourth individually.
Many questions have been asked regarding the decision to allow Valieva to compete as the ruling to ban Richardson occurred just last summer.
It is unfair that the committee would allow an athlete to compete after testing positive when other sports leagues enforce the non-tolerance policy. If an athlete is getting banned for testing positive for a non-enhancing drug, one should be banned for a performance-enhancing drug as well.
Marijuana is also becoming legal in more states, making this ruling even more outrageous. Some view this plant as a safer alternative to consuming alcohol. In Richardson’s case, marijuana was used to cope with the death of her mother, not to improve her performance.
The decision to ban Richardson but not Valieva is inexcusable — one relied on a non-performance-enhancing drug to cope with the death of a loved one while the other took a performance-enhancing drug to get ahead of the competition.