Kamila Valieva Tests Positive for Three Substances. Who is to Blame?

Eteri Tutberidze, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva’s coach, failed her after she tests positive for three substances–one of them banned


Graphic: A. Masiewicz

  The Olympics are a symbolic event for the entire world and have been for a long time. Its purpose is to bring countries around the globe together through sport so athletes can showcase their natural abilities. Unfortunately, some countries–Russia, not to name names–have cheated and taken away the integrity of these games through doping. Russia has a world record amount of 44 medals stripped due to doping violations, possibly more after the 2022 Winter Olympics. Ukraine follows Russia in second place, with 11 medals stripped; A whopping 35 medal difference between first and second place. 

  Now, what exactly is doping? According to the American Medical College of Toxicology, doping is “the use of prohibited medications, drugs, or treatments by athletes with the intention of improving athletic performance.” This is not a new tactic, the idea and use of doping can be dated back centuries. 

  What is concerning, though, is that 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, competing for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), is still being allowed to compete in the Olympics after testing positive for three different substances–one being banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Valieva tested positive for the banned trimetazidine, a heart medication that appears to improve one’s endurance. On top of that, she tested positive for hypoxen and L-carnitine, both are also heart medications. The use of all three substances is concerning, especially since Valieva is in good health. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, the use of the medications is a good “indication that something more serious is going on.”

The world should instead place the blame on her coach because Eteri Tutberidze failed Valieva,

— A. Masiewicz

  However, even though Valieva should not be allowed to compete for her positive tests, she is not the person to blame for the doping scandal. The world should instead place the blame on her coach because Eteri Tutberidze failed Valieva. 

   Tutberidze is known for producing “Eteri girls,” pre-pubescent girls from Russia trained under Tutberidze and her abusive methods–many of which have caused girls to retire from skating as young as 14-years-old. The turnover for new, young figure skaters in Russia is anything but normal, with them typically only having four-year careers. Many Russian skaters are discarded after reaching puberty. In fact, most try to delay puberty for as long as they can in unhealthy, unnatural ways. Others retire early because of extensive injuries, leaving them with life-long eating disorders and trauma to sort through. 

  Valieva claims that her positive test is due to a mistake with her grandfather’s heart medication, but the use of the three substances together seems to suggest otherwise. The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) should look to Tutberidze during this investigation of Valieva’s doping tests. The abusive methods Tutberidze utilizes when coaching her skaters should lead many people to ask the question: how far will she go? Although not proven, but suspected, she may go as far as giving a minor under her charge medications. 

The turnover for new, young figure skaters in Russia is anything but normal, with them typically only having four-year careers,

— A. Masiewicz

   With Tutberidze’s track record, I would not be surprised to learn that she administered the drugs without fully informing the young skater, leaving her vulnerable. The CAS should look into where exactly Valieva got the drugs. How would a minor be able to acquire the medications? Not only that but which adult figure in her life would lead her to the assumption that taking the drugs is okay? It quite possibly could be the one Valieva trusts the most, the one who manages her diet and her entire life: her coach (who does not have a very positive history with her skaters). After all, Valieva is only 15. Teens this age are easily impressionable and influenced by authority figures, especially ones they should be able to trust. Fingers are beginning to point to the adults that failed her. But hey, anything to win, right?


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