2022 Beijing Olympics present double standards in drug testing


Graphic by Hannah Ratcliffe ’22

The Olympics are facing backlash for allowing 15 year old figure skater Kamila Valieva to continue competing at the 2022 Winter games despite testing positive for banned performance enhancing substances.

After receiving a positive drug test for an intoxicant called THC in marijuana following her mother’s death, American track athlete Sha’Carri Richardson was denied the chance to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After testing positive for trimetazidine, a drug that boosts athletes’ endurance and blood efficiency, Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was allowed to keep competing in the 2022 Olympics held in Beijing. Despite the athletes’ different ages, nationalities and sports, there is one striking difference: their race.

The different reactions to the drugs found in the athletes’ tests is unfair, and questions the validity of the committee’s rules and regulations. The Olympics committee needs to reevaluate the decision to allow Valieva to still compete, and recognize the lack of consistency among their decisions. 

After being the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic figure skating , Valieva the 15 year old skater, despite ongoing investigation surrounding doping, was still allowed to continue competing in the competition, in which she placed fourth. 

Valieva the 15 year old skater, despite ongoing investigation surrounding doping, was still allowed to continue competing in the competition.

— Hannah Ratcliffe '22

 Richardson on the other hand wasn’t given a chance to compete for the gold. She claims she took the drug to help cope with her mother’s death before the games.

Additionally, the banned drug that was found in Richardson’s test was not performance inducing. Her athletic ability would have been exactly the same had she not taken it. The trimetazidine found in Valieva’s test, however, is known to increase the efficiency of the heart to allow better blood flow and may increase stamina and efficiency. 

It is clear that Valieva is being protected in a way that Richardson was not. The rash decision to ban Richardson from the games, especially when no advantage was gained, was too harsh. While I do not blame Valieva for the outcome of her Olympic career, I believe the decisions to allow her to keep competing should have been reconsidered, as it lacks consistency with past decisions. 

I do believe that there is a racial bias that the Olympics need to acknowledge, as the double standards for white and black athletes is apparent. I hope that the Olympics takes this opportunity to reflect on their rules and reform the protocol for positive doping tests, for the inconsistency is simply unjust.