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The International Skating Union on Tuesday voted to raise the minimum age for senior skaters from 15 years old to 17 years old, four months after Russian Federation figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned substance at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Valieva was just 15 years old at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
In a press release, the ISU said that the new minimum age will be implemented gradually, with the 2024-2025 season being the first with the new age requirement. The ISU cited the “physical and mental health, and emotional well-being” of the skaters as the reason for the new minimum age requirement.
“The ISU Congress voted in favor of the ISU Council Proposal 22 to gradually increase the age limit for Senior Skaters from 15 to 17 years for the sake of protecting the physical and mental health, and emotional well-being of the Skaters,” the ISU said in a press release. “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 will then be implemented.”
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Skaters age 15 will be allowed to compete next season, with the following year’s age limit being 16. Skaters will have to be 17 years old in order to compete at the 2026 Winter Olympics.
“This is a very important decision,” ISU president Jan Dijkema said. “I would say a very historic decision.”
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While Valieva was not specifically mentioned, the Russian skater’s positive test in Beijing stirred the discussion around raising the minimum age for skaters.
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In Beijing, Valieva helped the Russian team to a gold-medal finish in the team event before a positive test was reported. Valieva was allowed to continue competing, struggling mightily in the women’s free skate competition before finishing fourth and failing to medal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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