American track star Sha’Carri Richardson is upset with the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to allow Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian figure skater, to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Richardson said on Twitter the only difference lies in their skin color.
Richardson was set to compete for the United States Track and Field team in last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, but she was robbed of the opportunity after a positive marijuana test was reported to the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Valieva failed a screening test for performance-enhancing drugs in December, and she was cleared to compete this past week. The Russian figure skater is a white girl.
Valieva’s story is that she took the medication from her grandfather, not knowing the effects they would have. The drug in question was trimetazidine, a heart medication that enhances endurance.
Upon hearing this defense, the CAS cleared her to play for the remainder of the games. Richardson took to Twitter to voice her frustration.
She also questioned why the positive test results are only now coming to light. The results were reported to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in February — months after the actual test — leading to Valieva’s suspension Feb. 8.
Richardson’s results were reported within a week of her test. Her image was tarnished by the media before she had a chance to catch her breath.
The CAS made their decision on the basis that Valieva cannot be held responsible for her actions. There were other factors they took into consideration when they made their decision, such as the coaching integrity and the emotional harm that may be caused if they were to bar her from competing.
The decision was dependent on maintaining the well-being of the athlete. When faced with Richardson’s marijuana test, the rules were weighed with heavier meaning.
There seemed to be no moral obligation to allow Sha’Carri Richardson to compete.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made it clear that if Valieva were to finish in the top three, there would be no medal or flower ceremony. She ultimately finished in fourth place and fell multiple times throughout the routine.
The pressure placed on athletes is overwhelming. There should be intervention for a 15-year-old girl taking drugs for competition.
On the same note, Sha’Carri Richardson should not be held to a higher standard than white athletes. The CAS and IOC showed their lack of empathy toward Black athletes by making a blatantly hypocritical decision.
Hopefully, they learn from this situation and create a fair playing field for all of their athletes. It could start with changes to their drug restrictions, as well as equal amounts of consideration in their decision-making.