Letters to the Editor: Protect children from Olympic competition. Require athletes to be adults

A dejected Kamila Valieva
Russia’s Kamila Valieva at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
(Gary Ambrose / For The Times)

To the editor: Fifteen-year-olds have long been used by countries to compete in the Olympics. Countries use their Olympic athletes to project power. The success of an individual athlete is frequently forgotten with the focus shifting to their country’s team. (“Kamila Valieva is a brilliant skater, but should she be at the Olympics?” editorial, Feb. 16)

We watched Russia use a 15-year-old girl to satisfy President Vladimir Putin’s desire to demonstrate Russian power.

To have attained her singular, brilliant, Olympic gold medal ability, Kamila Valieva personally sacrificed, worked hard and endured others controlling her life. Her efforts culminated in the humiliating public disclosure that she had been given a banned performance-enhancing drug.


Her final Olympic performance told the world of her personal pain. The actions by the responsible adults in her life amount to state-supported child abuse.

We are all guilty of participating in her painful fate. The Olympics are big business, and we are its ready consumers. No business should survive on the backs of children.

To compete in future Olympics, all athletes should be at least 18.

Sidney Weissman, Highland Park, Ill.


To the editor: Can’t you just cry? A 15-year-old ice skating phenom from Russia fell out of contention for a gold medal or any other. Valieva succumbed to immense pressure and fell into fourth place.

All of her life she was groomed for the world stage. She tested positive for a banned substance and should have been disqualified, but the forces that run the Olympics gave Russia a wink and a nod to continue on.

One of the most powerful nations in the world, with all their sophisticated nuclear weapons, tried to rely on a child to gain respect in figure skating. Not only did they arguably abuse this little girl, they also established themselves as cheaters because they previously had been ousted from competition.


Russian Olympic officials are skirting the basic norms of what the Olympics are all about.

Barry Wasserman, Huntington Beach