ISU to raise figure skating age limit from 15 to 17
The International Skating Union (ISU) announced Tuesday that it will gradually raise the minimum age for competitors in senior figure skating events from 15 to 17.
The minimum age will be 16 for the 2023-24 season and 17 from 2024-25.
This decision was made after a vote at the ISU 58th Congress in Phuket to protect skaters' physical and mental health and emotional well-being.
"The ISU Congress voted in favor of gradually increasing the age limit from 15 to 17 years for the sake of protecting the physical and mental health, and emotional well-being of skaters," read the statement released by the world governing body.
"There will be no change for the season 2022/23, an increase to 16 years for the season 2023/24 and an increase to 17 years for the season 2024/25 and subsequent seasons."
The decision comes after the doping scandal surrounding Kamila Valieva at the Beijing Olympic Games.
At the Beijing Winter Games this February, 15-year-old Valieva of Russia was at the center of a doping scandal that quickly became the biggest story of the Olympics. Her status as a minor also complicated issues, as anti-doping rules recognized that she is unlikely to be entirely culpable for her actions.
Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication in a urine test taken in late December, but the results of the test were not reported by a lab in Sweden until after the Olympics had started, after she had helped the Russian Olympic Committee win the team figure skating competition.
The Russian anti-doping agency suspended her when the rest results were announced, but then lifted that suspension within the same day. The IOC postponed the medal ceremony for the team figure skating event and, along with the International Skating Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency, appealed against the decision to lift the suspension.
But Valieva was reinstated in a provisional ruling as the Court of Arbitration for Sport(CAS) ruled that Valieva should be allowed to compete in the women's singles event, but left the issues of any medals being awarded under review. In response, the IOC announced that if Valieva placed in the top three within the singles event, there would be no medals ceremony for any athletes involved.
The decision to allow her to compete and to suspend all medals if she placed in the top three was met with an immediate backlash from across the sporting world.
Even Kim Yuna, the 2010 Vancouver Games gold medalist and 2014 Sochi Games silver medalist, criticized the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision to allow the Russian skater to compete at the Olympics despite a positive doping test.
Valieva went on to compete in the individual figure skating event, where she fell multiple times and left the ice in tears, finishing in fourth place. After her performance, she seemingly was met with not empathy but criticism from her coach Eteri Tutberidze who at the time asked Valieva in Russian, "Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel."
Tutberidze is at the center of the Russian skating world and is infamous for her brutal training regimens. She has a record of saying in past interviews that she trains her young protegees for 12 hours a day, pushing them to always do more and demand more.
Tutberidze has led many young Russian skaters to dominate the sport, with Valieva also making history at the Beijing Games as the first woman to land a quad jump at the Olympics. However, as much as their outperforming results and records, Tutberidze's protegees are also known to have short-lived careers ridden with injuries.
With the Valieva drug case having put the spotlight on the adults responsible for the welfare of teen figure skaters, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said it will be investigating Valieva's entourage.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]