18th February 2022
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach admits talks around a minimum age limit at the Olympic Games are needed after the Kamila Valieva furore.
Bach has confirmed that the IOC Executive Board has started to discuss the matter in response to the doping scandal involving 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee at the Winter Olympics that has caused global media attention.
Valieva tested positive for banned heart drug trimetazidine but was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), partly because she was a “protected person” due to her age.
Bach said the IOC would consult the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and international sport federations before deciding if an age limit was appropriate.
"It would be dangerous to give my personal opinion, but for me personally the anti-doping rules are there to ensure a fair competition," Bach said.
"This leads me to the conclusion in a fair competition the same rules have to apply to everybody and for this we will have to see how this can be achieved while respecting the special circumstances of athletes being minor.
"This will be for the future to understand in the IOC Executive Board."
Bach’s comments follow those of former American figure skater Adam Rippon, who told Eurosport the adults around Valieva “completely failed her” and urged a ban on child participation.
“I think Kamila is a victim in this. But I also think every other girl in that event is a victim of Kamila,” Rippon said before Thursday’s free skate.
“It feels like a completely unfair situation. It feels like we're making accommodations for somebody who didn't follow the rules. That person is also unfortunately 15 years old. And that makes me think also, as a coach, how that skater got those medications.
“It makes me think that those adults around her completely failed her. It's a 15-year-old girl. It's a shame that this is her Olympic experience.”
Bach also criticised Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, for the treatment meted out to the Russian teenager.
Valieva started the free skate in the lead but a catalogue of falls and slips saw her drop off the podium. Her coach’s first words to her were: “why did you let it go? Explain it to me, why?”
"I was very disturbed when I watched the competition on TV, in her performance how high the pressure must have been. This pressure is beyond my imagination in particular for a girl of 15 years.” said Bach.
“She was received with such tremendous coldness. it was chilling.”
The International Skating Union (ISU), unconnected to the Valieva case, are reportedly considering raising its age limit for senior events from 15 to 17.
A proposal was reportedly made by the ISU Council following data received from its Medical Commission, with a gradual increase suggested to help protect physical and mental health of athletes, while ensuring current senior level athletes are not required to drop back down to junior level.
The original publication is available here.