The Olympic powers-that-be have handled the recent positive test by Russian skater Kamila Valieva significantly different than how they dealt with Sha’Carri Richardson, opening a Pandora’s box of problematic optics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was spot-on when it said that the suspension of Sha’Carri Richardson from the Summer Olympics for smoking marijuana, is very different than what’s happening now with Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva who tested positive for a banned substance.
What’s happening now is worst. A lot worse.
Richardson violated IOC rules, and therefore, some form of punishment had to be meted out. And that punishment involved her not being able to compete for Team USA in track and field.
Those are facts.
Valieva tested positive for a banned substance which was not discovered until after the Olympics had started (funny how that positive test just sat around for weeks before being discovered, huh?). And the various Olympic governing bodies decided, even with the news that she tested positive for a banned substance, to let her continue to compete because of the “irreparable” harm that might come to her if she’s not allowed to compete.
Those are also facts.
And that makes the Olympic powers-that-be look like complete idiots.
The IOC thinks those of us watching this sideshow from afar—I had another four-letter word in mind besides ‘side’ but I’ll keep that to myself—are a bunch of Boo Boo the fools to not see the distinct difference in how they handled Richardson’s positive result and what’s happening now.
Richardson was punished. Valieva? Not so much.
And as much as the IOC wants us to focus on the fact that she’s 15 years old, which puts her under a different and far more lenient set of standards than if she were older, that doesn’t change the irrefutable facts.
One athlete, Richardson, with no pattern of trying to skate by the rules, was punished. Another athlete, Valieva, is literally and figuratively skating by getting busted in what’s turning out to be more than just a one-time thing.
It was learned afterward that the banned substance in her system, trimetazidine, which is a banned heart medication that's believed to improve an athlete’s endurance, wasn’t the only drug in her system.
It was reported that there were two other heart-related drugs discovered that, while not on the banned list, have been implicated as part of a doping scandal with another high-profile athlete.
But even if you stick to the one banned substance, that should have been enough to get her booted out of the Olympics.
Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva, were hit with doping bans in the past when they tested positive for the drug.
The IOC is a joke, and the rest of the world is laughing its ass off at them right now.
The double-standard that the Olympic folks have shown in their handling of Richardson’s positive test and the Valieva, just doesn’t make any sense.
Especially when you factor in that she represents a country that has consistently skirted the rules of fair play with one doping scandal after another. It’s to the point they literally can’t even compete under their country’s name or flag, because of how badly they break the rules.
The Olympic folks talk about the integrity of the games, and, yet, they willingly allow an athlete to compete who broke their rules.
The fact that she’s 15 years old, while a factor, still doesn’t take away from the fact that she broke the rules. The idea of the IOC “now” wanting to protect minors is comical if it wasn’t so ludicrous.
The IOC has no idea what this incident is doing to their image which has already taken a beating in recent years.
When you watch the Games—and from all we’ve seen and heard that’s not happening nearly as much as past years—you do so hoping all the athletes are competing on a level playing field.
But that’s clearly not what’s happening.
The irony is that the Olympic powers-that-be will not hold a medal ceremony if Valieva wins a medal, worried about the optics of what it would look like having a Russian medal when they know damn well she should not have been allowed to compete.
Never mind the optics of having an athlete test positive but still allowed to compete.
They’re OK with those optics.
They have shown the Russian skater the kind of grace that would have been nice to see given to Richardson whose status at the time was one that isn’t all that different from Valieva, who has established herself as the world’s best at what she does.
But how good or talented you are in your respective sport, shouldn’t matter, right?
I mean, that was the message they sent when they suspended Richardson. And that message, truth be told, is a good one—just as long as you’re consistent with it.
And the IOC has been anything but that with how they’ve handled the two, high-profile positive tests.
The knee-jerk reaction is to see it as a Black and white thing; Richardson is Black and Valieva is white.
I’m not sold on that being the driving force behind what’s happening but denying it as a potential factor is impossible to do in this day and age. The IOC is conducting itself like a bunch of scared kids on the playground; afraid that the big, bad Russian bully is going to hurt them for doing what’s right.
No one is saying that Richardson should have been allowed to compete in the Olympics.
What she did wasn’t right; we get it.
But what the Olympic powers-that-be are doing now is worse; so much worse.