Kamila Valieva should never have skated. Her presence on the ice in Beijing was a slap in the face to the ethics of clean sport and her tearful exi
Kamila Valieva should never have skated. Her presence on the ice in Beijing was a slap in the face to the ethics of clean sport and her tearful exit a horrible epitaph.
When an individual fails a drugs test – 15-year-old or not – they cannot then be cleared to compete in an Olympics less than two months later. In allowing Valieva to skate on at the Games the message which was sent out was that doping and child abuse – for that is what her case amounts to – is OK.
To perform under the searing spotlight which inevitably followed, invited the calamitous routine. First after the short programme, she missed out on a medal place altogether.
Her wretched misery after the falls and stumbles was discomforting to watch. So much for the idea of protecting her as a minor by allowing her to skate. The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision freed Valieva to subject herself to a public scarring she may never recover from.
It was a ghoulish circus in which a victim once became a victim twice over.
And let us be clear she is a victim in all this.
At 15, she is in the care of her coaches and sports scientists and somewhere along the line she has been badly let down.
The drug in question – trimetazidine – is typically used to treat angina patients by increasing blood flow to the heart. It is not recommended for use by under 18s yet somehow it found its way into her system.
No-one can think she would have headed down that dark alley herself.
Valieva’s lawyers claimed that while she had no medical condition that would require TMZ there may have been a mix-up with her grandad’s prescription and that she may have drunk from a contaminated glass of his.
Two other non-banned heart drugs were also reported to have shown up in her test. That represents pretty careless use of the family medicine cabinet.
Whatever the hogwash of her defence, Valieva is a pawn in a bigger game.
What were the Russians thinking? Churchill’s ‘riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ never rings more true than at the moment on the world stage.
Valieva should have been a national treasure – the quadruple queen – but instead she has become the personification of a great nation’s moral malaise.
The industrial scale doping of Sochi in 2014 may be a thing of the past but to pretend all the bad guys have left the building with a change of name is naive.
Four years ago Russian bobsledder Nadezha Sergeeva also tested positive for trimetazidine and was disqualified from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
The Russians or the Russian Olympic Committee – call them what you will, it is one and the same – have left another stain on these Games but one which is even more unpleasant in its own way than its past excesses.
The figure skating gold they craved was duly won by Anna Shcherbakova yesterday but with a sprinkling of schadenfreude, the clean sweep of the podium was denied them by Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto.
As for Valieva, she has a gold from the team event to come but it will never arrive.
She and her entourage will be investigated by both the Russian Anti-Doping Agency – don’t hold your breath – but also the World Anti-Doping Agency after the Olympics.
The outcome, with her failed test, can only go one way which will see the USA promoted to first place.
There are no real winners here though; only losers after a case that shames sport.