Olympic Doping Scandal Raises Concerns Among Athletes

By Sara Gelrud, Gulliver Preparatory

Recently, a positive drug test of Russian Olympic figure skater Kamila Valieva, 15, was made public. Valieva was found with a heart medication in her system known as trimetazidine (TMZ) that has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency since 2014.

“It’s increasing her metabolism. Basically, it’s adding hormones to make her do cellular respiration faster, get more ATP, and make her more energetic,” said biomedical teacher Yoly McCarthy.

Despite Valieva’s positive test, the skater continued to compete in the Games, placing fourth at the women’s figure skating final on Thursday. This came as a shock to athletes worldwide, especially to basketball legend and Olympic gold medalist Ray Allen.

“[It’s] somewhat a double standard because Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana and she couldn’t go to the Games. Now you see this Russian skater who tested positive for banned substances and now she’s able to compete,” said Allen. “The standard is not the same across the board. It just doesn’t seem right.”

Allen wasn’t the only one disheartened by the news. Members of the school community reached a consensus that Valieva’s positive test and those before hers are, above all, disappointing from a competitive level as high as the Olympics.

“I feel like it affects the playing field. It’s not fair to the other athletes who have to work hard. It’s disappointing to see. I don’t feel like this is any good news,” shared sophomore Mia Carrasco, a member of the weightlifting team.

Freshman gymnast Micaela Donoso shared her worries surrounding how doping scandals can damage the reputation of an  Olympic sport as a whole.

“If they’re taking drugs, then people are going to view athletes differently because they’re going to think that most of the athletes are taking drugs to do sports. They’re not going to be viewed as champions,” she said.

Member of the golf team and tennis team, sophomore Danny Hagenlocker, supported changes to the seldom-understood rules surrounding Olympic athletes and performance-enhancing drugs.

“I do think that there are certain medications that people should be allowed to take. I think that regulations need to be more clear so that everyone knows the rules,” he said.

Valieva was on the way to becoming one of the world’s greatest figure skaters on account of her becoming the first female athlete to successfully land a quad jump at the Olympics. Even though the jump has been completed before by other athletes, such as Japanese skater Miki Ando, Valieva’s use of TMZ most likely contributed to her ability to land these difficult jumps near the second half of her skate.

This is not the first time TMZ has been discovered in the system of Russian athletes. Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva tested positive for the same drug in 2018, disqualifying her from the Sochi Winter Olympics. Due to Valieva’s being a minor, much of the blame for her use of TMZ has been placed on the coaches and adults surrounding her training.

“It’s up to the people in the community that are in positions of power, administration, and government to do the right thing,” said Allen. “As an athlete, you can’t worry about that. You have to worry about the things that are under your control, stay healthy, and perform at the highest level. You hope that they are fair and just to everybody.”

This story was originally published on The Raider Voice on February 19, 2022.