Valieva skating despite drug test illustrates Olympics double standard

Olympics, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Karina Ordonez

During the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Russian skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a doping test and was still able to compete for her team, whereas American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was banned for a similar reason. It is unjust that Valieva was able to compete and Richardson wasn’t even allowed to try.

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?” Richardson began in a Tweet. “My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top three. The only difference I see is I’m a Black young lady.”

THC is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances, but so is trimetazidine, a heart drug that boosts an athlete’s endurance. Valieva had an unfair advantage while using trimetazidine, while Richardson never had any performance-enhancing substances in her system.

When Valieva tested positive, she somehow avoided being suspended from the competition, and news of her test only started getting out little by little when she helped Russia win a gold medal in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Richardson’s test became public knowledge very quickly, and her name and reputation were immediately slaughtered by the American people.

It is important to note that cannabis does not have the stigma it used to have — it is legalized in dozens of states.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has stated that it will review the ban in September following this issue. However, it is already too late, because they stopped a very qualified athlete from representing her country.

It has everything to do with race. If it didn’t, both women would have never been able to compete in the Olympics. If it had nothing to do with race, Richardson’s name would have never been dragged through the mud, and she would have still been able to compete, just as Valieva did.

Throughout American history, African American people have been unfairly incarcerated due to marijuana use. This was especially seen in the 1970s, with President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” Top Nixon Aide John Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Despite the outrage, there has been an overwhelming amount of sympathy for Valieva, since she is only 15-years-old and competing in one of the most prestigious winter sports, women’s figure skating.

They claim that she is “only a child” and deserves at least a chance. This could not be further from the truth.

Olympic gold medalists including Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Michelle Kwan have all done things the right way and have fought to prove that they weren’t using any drugs to enhance their performance. Letting Valieva compete is a huge slap in the face to all Olympic athletes who got to where they are through genuine hard work and dedication.

It is an even bigger slap in the face to Richardson, a qualified young woman who just wanted to make her mother proud.