Figure skating takes action after Russian teen's Olympic scandal

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Russian skater Kamila Valieva (pictured) broke down in tears at the Winter Olympics after one of her performances.
The International Skate Union (ISU) has raised the age for competitors, following the drama surrounding Russian skater Kamila Valieva (pictured) at the Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)

The International Skating Union (ISU) has made the decision to raise the age to 17 for athletes to compete at Olympic-level competition, following the scandal involving Kamila Valieva at the Winter Olympics.

Russian teen skater Valieva made worldwide headlines when a doping test prior to the Winter Olympics came back positive for a heart medication.

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However, the result was only released after she'd helped the Russian Olympic Committee win gold in the team event at the Olympics.

The saga made worldwide headlines with questions being asked about the wellbeing of Valieva and how this could happen to a 15-year-old.

Valieva was allowed to compete in further events, but fell several times in the individual event to miss out on a medal, finishing fourth despite being the overwhelming favourite.

Coach Eteri Tutberidze copped a raft of criticism in the aftermath of Valieva's stunning series of falls, with IOC boss Thomas Bach describing her reaction as "chilling".

Following the teen's tears, the psychological and mental toll of competition became a talking point about young athletes competing on the world stage.

Russian teen skater Kamila Valieva (pictured right) taking a photo with Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured left) after returning from the Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)
Russian teen skater Kamila Valieva (pictured right) taking a photo with Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured left) after returning from the Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)

Now, the ISU have determined the minimum age for skaters will be 16 years old for the 2023-24 season and will increase to 17 for the 2024-25 season onwards.

This will be in time for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

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The proposal was passed with 100 votes to 16.

"This is very important decision," ISU President Jan Dijkema said after cheers and applause from delegates greeted the result.

"I would say a very historic decision."

Russian figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova suggested the rule change was aimed squarely at her country.

"They see that there is a large number of girls and boys in our country and they want to block them from competing," she told Russia's Match TV.

Kamila Valieva (pictured) reacts to her score after the Women Single Skating Free Skating at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Kamila Valieva (pictured) reacts to her score after the Women Single Skating Free Skating at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo by Nikolay Muratkin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In a powerful speech, ISU Athletes Commission member Eric Radford said nations opposed to the idea have to think about the welfare of their young athletes, compared to a medal.

"The life of an athlete is short and intense, their experience in this short phase sets the platform for the rest of their lives — physically, spiritually emotionally," said the Canadian, who won a pairs gold at the 2018 Olympics.

"While I hear the concerns of certain nations about the immediate difficulty that they might face with this proposal being passed ... is a medal really worth the life of a young athlete?"

with Reuters

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