Sunday, Dec. 04, 2022|
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Track star Sha’Carri Richardson is speaking an important truth loudly, and we don’t blame her.
After Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was allowed to compete in the Olympics despite a positive test for an illegal substance, Richardson, who was blocked from running in Tokyo in 2021 because she tested positive for THC, took to Twitter to point out the double standard.
“The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady,” Richardson posted on Monday.
Well, that, and Valieva is on the Russian figure skating team, a group notoriously favored by Olympic officials. (And by “Russian figure skating team,” we mean the Russian Olympic Committee team, since the nation of Russia was banned from the Olympics for its state-sponsored doping scheme in Sochi in 2014.)
When Richardson tested positive for a banned substance and wasn’t allowed to compete in Tokyo, we praised her for taking her punishment with honesty and grace.
She explained that she was in mental anguish when, during the Olympic trials, she learned of the death of her mother. In her grief, she unwisely reached for marijuana.
Now, it’s time for some honesty and grace from the Russians.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport Panel ruled that Valieva could skate because she is a minor, and cutting her from competition could cause her “irreparable harm.”
But these are exactly the reasons that the panel should uphold its rules for a 15-year-old girl.
Valieva tested positive for Trimetazidine, a heart drug that is illegal for athletes. The drug, which isn’t available in the U.S., increases blood flow to the heart, improving an athlete’s endurance. Side effects include low blood pressure, vomiting, indigestion, headaches and liver dysfunction.
Who gives a drug like that to a healthy child? We expect Olympic officials to stand firm against this kind of abuse of a minor.
We wish Valieva good health because as an athlete, she is inspiring.
At age 15, she is the first female to land quadruple jumps at the Olympics. We hope to see her incredible talent and athleticism for many Olympics to come.
But, like Richardson, we see a terrible double standard at play. Richardson owned up to her mistake.
We don’t know what Valieva would do or say. First, she is very young, really still in childhood. What’s more, we cannot say with confidence that she is free to speak her mind.
We have no confidence that leaders in Russia’s Olympic program would demonstrate Richardson’s courage and honesty.
We are proud to watch the Americans who win medals, we’ll buy the box of Wheaties with Nathan Chen on it. But we admire athletes when they don’t win, too.
We teared up to see Shaun White end his Olympic career, not with a medal, but with joy and awe at where the young snowboarders are taking the sport that he built.
We applauded Simone Biles when she made the right decision to put her mental and physical health above a medal.
Russia should show the same regard for its athletes. They deserve it.
— The Dallas Morning News
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