Olympics need an age floor for athletes

It's like the world has allowed the spirit of competition to surpass the well-being of children



February 22, 2022 - 10:02 AM

Kamila Valieva of Team ROC on Feb. 15, 2022, in Beijing. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/TNS)

Kamila Valieva, an Olympic figure skating competitor for the Russian Olympic Committee, was poised to take home a gold medal. Despite being just 15 years old, Valieva may never compete in another Olympic Games.

This all comes after the shocking discovery of a positive doping test, but due to the exceptional circumstance of her being a minor — categorizing her as a “protected person” under the World Anti-Doping Code — she was still able to compete. Given that she would not face penalization from the International Olympic Committee, this has caused people to speculate that her “entourage” may have provided her with the drug found in her system.

The Olympics do not have standardized age criteria, with officials instead allowing each sport to determine its own rules, seemingly creating a system that can enable people to exploit children for national recognition, all without consideration of the athletes’ well-being. The Washington Post reported Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, has a reputation for “running an unforgiving and risky program that critics say drives to stardom and then discards teenage skaters, who have left the sport with severe injuries and reported lasting eating disorders.”

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