Folks keep trying to equate what happened to Sha’Carri Richardson with the Kamila Valieva situation.

Look I can see why folks want to point out racist aspects here. Initially, I also thought ‘yeah, what the hell?! This is some racist shit right here!’

But then I decided to look the facts behind the two situations.

While, I absolutely agree, racism in the Olympics is definitely a thing, there is more here than meets the eye.

  • The decision to not allow Sha’Carri to compete in the Olympics was made by the United States Olympic committee. She was not allowed to join the team because she tested positive during the Olympic trials.
  • The decision to allow Valieva to compete was made by the Court of Arbitraters for Sport (CAS)- after they were actually asked to suspend Valieva by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) – which is the protocol used in order to suspend an athlete from competing once they’ve been granted a place on a team.

So right there, the people making the decisions were not the same people. If the USA had allowed Sha’Carri on the team, and all the results had been the same, it would be a different story.

  • Sha’Carri was 20 years old, I believe, at the time of her incident. She was a grown woman with agency. And yes, she was going through some seriously devastating times and wanted to calm down. But as she said in her own statement, she knew what she was doing. She smoked weed (which we all know is not a performance enhancing drug for athletes), which is a banned substance.
  • Valieva is a 15 year-old girl. And while in the USA, 15 year-olds are known to mouth off and have the right to say ‘no’ to authority, that’s not the case in Russia. If her coach (who is an abusive monster), or the team doctor (who has already been accused in a doping scandal involving the Russian Olympic rowing team) gave her some pills and told her to take them, she had to do it. The drugs in question were a combination of three drugs – one that is banned, two that are not – when taken together give an athlete added endurance. She didn’t ‘accidentally’ take her grandfathers medication, anymore than that joint you found in your kid’s pocket belonged to their friend.

In truth, Valieva never should have been allowed to join her team. But the Russian Olympic Committee doesn’t care about the rules. But since she was allowed on the team, the IOC and CAS, should punish the ROC.

But it’s important to see the intent and and take in to account who made the choice to take a banned drug, verses who took a banned drug that was given to them by an authority figure.

Richardson wanted to calm down during a tumultuous time in her life. Valieva needed to obey her handlers.

Valieva should never have been allowed on the team – but suspiciously, the tests results weren’t released until after she was already in Beijing – even though she tested positive from a test taken during the Russian trials – on December 25th.

For now, she is being permitted to compete, but not to medal. If she makes the top three, which she likely will, neither she, nor the other two who make the top spots, will be given a medal until the current investigation is completed.

Yes, it’s unfair. It’s unfair to all the skaters who worked tirelessly to skate clean. Whose parents called the Olympic committees within their countries to make sure whatever cold medicines they gave their kids were not going to harm their chances of competing via a failed drug test. It’s unfair to all future athletes.

It’s also really unfair to Valieva and her teammates, none of whom deserved to be abused by the adults given control of their lives because they showed promise as potential medalists in their country.

But it’s not the same as the Richardson situation – there is no equating the two.

You can’t just look at two female atheletes who failed a drug test and end the comparison there without looking at the full story.

And while some wish to vilify Valieva as a ‘cheater’ and make assumptions about her principals, we are overlooking the real criminals in this sad story.

The real criminals here are the people who would give a healthy athlete drugs with a list of side effects a mile long, drugs that could damage her organs and vital systems, just because they wanted to guarantee a medal she was likely going to win anyway because she has been working her entire life to be the best in her sport.

I’m sad for her. And I’m sad for everything Richardson went through. They are both phenomenal athletes and I hope they both get to compete and win in future Olympics without any clouds hanging over their heads.

In the meantime, I will watch all the figure skating competitions and the gala and route for my favorites, and hope for a fair outcome from this investigation, which would include the ROC being held accountable for their cheating and Valieva comes back in four years to earn her medals without vile assholes ruining her body so they can take credit for her hard work.

She shouldn’t be allowed to take any home this year though.