IOC Makes Heartbreaking Decision Amid Kamila Valieva Controversy

Many fans have been enjoying the celebration of Nathan Chen breaking a world record and feeling a sense of nostalgia over seeing Shaun White in his final Olympics competition. The women's figure skating events, however, have been filled with controversy. The complicated situation surrounding Russian skater Kamila Valieva is continuing to raise concern at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The impressive debut of the figure skater has been greatly overshadowed by the troubling scandal of her use of a banned substance. Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine — a heart condition medication that could benefit athletic endurance — on February 8, a day following her performance in the team competition that landed Russia gold.

According to Bleacher Report, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency said the positive test was delayed due to a COVID-19 surge in the laboratory after the samples were taken at the Russian national championship in late December. A week of chaotic chatter and speculation in Beijing has led to Valieva getting the green light for continuing competition, a major reason being that the 15-year-old is a "protected person" in this situation — one that is too young to comprehend the use of substances.

This directs a huge level of criticism on the adults surrounding her in the Russian Olympic Committee and a possibility for more figure skating feuds. According to ESPN, the continuing investigation will examine Valieva's coaches, doctors, nutritionists, and members of her personal team. The complex and highly-criticized rulings have led to another big change for medal celebrations within the women's figure skating events.

There will be no medal ceremony if Kamila Valieva places

The International Olympic Committee made the announcement on February 14 that medal ceremonies for the team figure skating event, as well as the individual women's event in the case that Kamila Valieva wins a medal, will not be held during the Beijing Olympics. According to Yahoo! Sports, the committee makes the decision "in the interest of fairness to all athletes and the (nations) concerned," stating that a medal ceremony would be inappropriate with the inclusion of an athlete who tested positive for a banned substance. This strange ruling is riling fans and competitors alike. 

The announcement came hours after the Court of Arbitration for Sport's ruling that allows Valieva to compete despite the positive test. As it stands, this means the nine skaters for Team USA positioned to take home silver in the team event and the eight skaters for Team Japan with bronze will not be accepting any medals in Beijing — a devastating blow to those who have trained tirelessly for this enormous accomplishment.

Former American Olympic skater Tara Lipinski spoke bluntly about the situation: "It's not just about her skating or not skating. It's affecting everyone at these Olympic Games to think that there is going to be no medal ceremony in the ladies event if she's on the podium." Lipinski continued, per the New York Post, "Imagine how that's affecting so many other skaters' lives and their Olympic experiences." The investigation continues as figure skaters compete in the short program February 15 and end with the free skate February 17.