— Published 4 May 2022

Minimum age in question

An effect of the Kamila Valieva case? The International Skating Union (ISU) will propose at its next General Assembly, scheduled for the beginning of June in Phuket (Thailand), to raise the minimum age for participating in international competitions by two years. Currently set at 15, it could be raised to 17 before the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games. The project is on the agenda of the ISU Congress. It is accompanied by a note from the body’s medical commission, according to which “allowing underage athletes to compete could subject them to loads and risks deemed inappropriate for their age. Not only physically, but also in terms of the child’s psychological and social development. Junior athletes face multiple stressors on their way to pro sport.” The proposal submitted to the Congress foresees an increase in the minimum age in two stages. Skaters aged 16 or over in July of the previous year will be eligible for senior competition from the 2023-24 season. The minimum age will then be set at 17 for the 2024-25 season and beyond. In support of its plan, the ISU cites the results of a survey of skaters, coaches and skating officials. It revealed that 86.2% of the 966 respondents were in favour of raising the minimum age. The ISU’s proposal comes just months after the Beijing 2022 Games, where Russia’s Kamila Valieva (pictured above), then 15, was at the centre of a long and complex doping case.