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AP Sports Writer
BEIJING (AP) — The doping case involving Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has led to many more questions than answers.
Some skaters think it’s time to ask another: Should a 15-year-old be in the Olympics at all?
Valieva was allowed to skate Tuesday in the short program partly because her age gives her extra rights as a “protected person” in a doping case. It comes as some skating officials push to raise the minimum age for her event from 15 to 17 in time for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics. Bell suggested a minimum of 18.
Reformers argue a change would protect the wellbeing of child athletes and reduce the risk of injuries from straining the body into ever-more spectacular jumps.
The issue is expected to go to a vote at the International Skating Union congress in June. It’s unclear if it will pass. Russia is opposed and the United States and Canada declined to say how they’ll vote.
Figure skating has long struggled to balance artistic performances against athleticism in its often-disputed scoring system. Adolfsen argues the artistry is what connects best with the public, and that comes with experience.
Age affects male and female skaters differently. Men tend to develop later and have longer careers, but still face injury risks. Only six of 30 skaters in the women’s short program Tuesday were also at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. The men’s event had twice as many returnees from four years ago, and Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic skated at his fourth Olympics.