Figure skating’s global governing body voted on Tuesday to gradually raise the minimum age for elite competitors to 17 over the next three years. She described the move as an attempt to protect the skaters’ “physical and mental health and emotional well-being” but only made the decision after facing global criticism over a doping scandal involving the 15-year-old Russian champion that tarnished the women’s singles event at this year’s Beijing Winter Olympics.
The rule change was to raise the minimum age agreed At the annual meeting of the International Ski Federation in Phuket, Thailand. The skating federation said the change would be gradual: there would be no change to the 2022-23 competition season. But the so-called top skaters must be 16 in 2023-24 and 17 in the 2024-25 campaign.
The gradual entry means that the upper age limit will be in effect in time for the next Winter Olympics, in Milan and Cortina, Italy, in 2026.
The decision comes just months after a major doping scandal at the Beijing Winter Olympics implicated Camila Valeeva, a Russian figure skater who was only 15 years old. It was discovered that Valieva, one of the best skaters in the world and a favorite to win the gold medal, had tested positive for a banned substance in the lead up to the Olympic competition. The scandal has raised questions about the physical and mental integrity of young skaters, and whether enough is being done to protect them from adults who are leading their careers.
The proposal appears to have wide support in the international figure skating community, where the issue of implementing some kind of age limit has been debated and debated for years.
It was passed at the meeting on Tuesday by 100 votes to 16, with two abstentions.
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