Winter Olympics: Valieva treatment by figure skater's entourage 'chilling', says Bach

By Sports Desk February 18, 2022 968

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach says it was "chilling" to see the way Kamila Valieva was treated by her coach after falling in her figure skating routine.

Valieva was left visibly upset after making a number of errors as she missed out on a place on the podium in Thursday's singles event at the Winter Olympics.

The 15-year-old had been on course to win the title after Tuesday's short programme, having controversially been cleared to compete despite testing positive for trimetazidine in December.

However, the immense pressure Valieva has been under in Beijing appeared to have taken its toll as she could only finish fourth after a score of 141.83 for her final routine had her 224.09 overall at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

Anna Shcherbakova took gold with a combined score of 255.95 and fellow 17-year-old Alexandra Trusova made it a Russian Olympic Committee one-two, with Kaori Sakamoto of Japan claiming bronze.

However, rather than comfort Valieva, coach Eteri Tutberidze instead reportedly asked her "why did you stop fighting?" in reference to an initial mistake on the teenager's opening triple axel.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, IOC chief Bach confirmed the organisation was concerned.

"There is a very sad story about Kamila Valieva," Bach said. "I was very disturbed when I watched the competition on TV, in her performance how high the pressure must have been. This pressure is beyond my imagination in particular for a girl of 15 years.

"Rather than giving her comfort, rather than trying to help her. You could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance. If you were interpreting the body language, it got even worse. It was even dismissive.

"To see her struggling, trying to compose herself, you can see the immense mental stress, perhaps she would have preferred to leave this story behind her.

"All of which does not give me confidence in the entourage of Kamila, neither in regard to what happened in the past or as far as it concerns the future. This was no way to treat a 15-year-old under such mental stress. 

"I hope she has the support of her friends and family to help her through this difficult situation."

Valieva won team gold last week before her failed drugs test came to light, which prompted calls for the youngster to be thrown out of the Games.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling allowed Valieva to compete in the singles, but she is still the subject of an anti-doping investigation and her entourage – including doctors, coaches and other adults surrounding her – are also being investigated.

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Last modified on Friday, 18 February 2022 07:07
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