The Olympic chief blasted Russia‘s figure skating coaches for the ‘chilling’ treatment of teenage skating sensation Kamila Valieva after her error-strewn long program and failed quest for gold at the Beijing games.
‘I was very disturbed yesterday when I watched the competition on television. I saw how high the pressure must have been on her,’ International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said.
‘This pressure is beyond my imagination. In particular for a girl of 15-years-old. To see her struggling on the ice, seeing how she tries to compose herself again and finish her program.’
His remarks came hours after the 15-year-old’s controversial coach was heard on microphones at the skating rink berating the Moscow schoolgirl who failed a doping test and found herself the main story of the Winter Olympics.
Valieva – commonly known as ‘Miss Perfect’ because of her incredible routines – dropped out of first place and finished fourth overall, with a total score of 224.09, after finishing fifth in the long program portion of the event Thursday night.
The skater’s personal best is 272.71, which is also the world record.
The Olympic chief blasted Russia’s figure skating coaches for the ‘chilling’ treatment of teenage skating sensation Kamila Valieva after her error-strewn long program and failed quest for gold at the Beijing games (Pictured: Valieva falling during the Women Single Skating Free Skating on day thirteen of the Beijing)
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (left) said he was ‘very disturbed’ by the ‘chilling’ response from Valieva’s (right) coaches. He argued: ‘This pressure is beyond my imagination. In particular for a girl of 15-years-old. To see her struggling on the ice, seeing how she tries to compose herself again and finish her program’
Valieva – commonly known as ‘Miss Perfect’ because of her incredible routines – dropped out of first place and finished fourth overall, with a total score of 224.09, after finishing fifth in the long program portion of the event Thursday night. The skater is pictured crying after the event
Bach claimed he was ‘very disturbed’ after watching Valieva’s struggles in the women’s figure skating competition Thursday night, criticizing her entourage following the event.
‘When I saw how she was received by her entourage, but what appeared to be a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this,’ he said.
‘Rather than try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance.’
Valieva was seen by what is thought to have been the biggest TV global audience of the games stumbling throughout her performance to Ravel’s Bolero.
She left the rink waving her hands and dejected, and was later in tears in front of millions watching across the world.
The first words Coach Eteri Tutberidze spoke to the teen as she walked away from the rink were: ‘Why did you let it go? Why did [you] stop fighting?’
‘You let it go after that axel. Why? Explain it to me, why?’ he questioned.
The Olympic chief said it was apparent by the teen’s body language that she was under a lot of pressure.
‘You could see in the body language, this was an immense mental stress,’ Bach recalled. ‘If you interpret the body language, it got even worse.’
He added: ‘Maybe she would have preferred to leave the ice and leave the story behind her.’
Fellow Olympian and former figure skater Ashley Wagner echoed Bach’s claims as she took to Twitter Thursday.
‘This is a moment where you genuinely have to say – that poor kid,’ Wagner wrote.
‘She should not have ever been put in this position. She shouldn’t have been out on that ice, she shouldn’t have been put in a position where she became the face of a problem bigger than her.’
Valieva was seen by what is thought to have been the biggest TV global audience of the games stumbling throughout her performance to Ravel’s Bolero
She left the rink waving her hands and dejected, and was later in tears in front of millions watching across the world
The Olympic chief said it was apparent by the teen’s body language that she was under a lot of pressure. Bach said: ‘You could see in the body language, this was an immense mental stress. If you interpret the body language, it got even worse’
Valieva finished out of the medals in fourth place, despite being favorite for the gold.
The skater known as ‘Miss Perfect’ because of her incredible routines had become better known as a drugs cheat at these Winter Olympics.
She bowed out of the Olympics and will leave China amid a swarm of bitterness, controversy and dejection and without the gold medal she had been widely expected to win in the women’s single event.
She had wowed the judges on Tuesday in the preliminary round and top scored. But the acrimony and focus on her which followed the revelation that she had been branded a drugs cheat proved too much for the schoolgirl.
The team gold medal she won for Russian Olympic Committee may also be taken from her if her doping test is affirmed after further investigation by officials.
The pressure weighing on teenage figure skaters was all too evident on Thursday when Valieva’s teammate, silver medallist Alexandra Trusova, broke down in tears before the podium ceremony after the women’s single event at the Beijing Olympics.
The 17-year-old Russian, who attempted five quadruple jumps in a high-octane routine at the Capital Indoor Stadium, missed out on gold by 4.22 points after the judges favored her compatriot Anna Shcherbakova’s free skate.
Silver medallist Alexandra Trusova broke down in tears before the podium ceremony
The Russian declared she ‘hated’ skating and reportedly initially refused to go on the podium
World champion Shcherbakova, also 17, landed only two quads, and Trusova’s athletic performance to Cruella and the Stooges’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ helped her score more points in the free skate, but it was not enough to make up for her disappointing performance in Tuesday’s short program.
With all the attention on 15-year-old prodigy Valieva, who in the wake of a doping scandal slipped to the ice and tumbled to fourth after topping the standings in the short program, Trusova’s moment of despair almost went unnoticed.
‘Everyone has a gold medal, everyone, but not me. I hate skating. I hate it. I hate this sport. I will never skate again. Never,’ Trusova said as she briefly left the sight of Eteri Tutberidze, who coaches her, Shcherbakova and Valieva.
‘It’s impossible. That’s not how it should be.’
Trusova, the world championships’ bronze medallist, elaborated in the post-event news conference, where she was also close to tears.
‘I haven’t been winning major events for three years. I always try to reach a goal, I always add more quads,’ the 17-year-old said.
‘And when I get to that, I will win. This didn’t happen, that’s why I was upset.’
The 17-year-old skater attempted five quadruple jumps in her high-octane routine
But she ultimately missed out on Gold to compatriot Anna Shcherbakova by 4.22 points
Trusova did eventually go on the podium but was still tearful throughout the ceremony
Asked why she cried, Trusova said: ‘Just because. I wanted to cry, so I cried. I’ve been three weeks alone without my mom, my dogs. So I cry.’
The Olympic chief also commented on the way Trusova was treated, questioning: ‘How can you really be so cold to your athletes?
‘When I saw and read how Trusova was being treated, when I read about her comments, I’m afraid that the impression I had last night was not the wrong one,’ he said.
‘All of this does not give me much confidence in the this closest entourage of Kamila. Neither with regard to what happened in the past, nor as far as it concerns the future, how to deal with and treat a minor athlete at the age of 15, under such obvious stress.’
The Russian Olympic Committee team has been in the eye of a doping storm since the news broke last week that Valieva had failed a doping test at her national championships last December after testing positive for a banned heart medication.
She was eventually cleared to skate on Monday in the women’s single event by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after sport’s highest court upheld the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to lift a provisional ban on her.
The Russian team have been caught in a doping scandal after Kamila Valieva failed a doping test at her national championships last December
The 15-year-old prodigy tumbled to the ice during her performance and finished fourth
Valieva was also left in tears and had to be consoled by her coaches following the routine
The CAS ruling implied that due to being a ‘protected person’ under the World Anti-Doping Code because of her status as a minor, there was a chance she might receive a lesser punishment should her offense be confirmed, and that banning her in the meantime might cause her ‘irreparable harm.’
The decision prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to declare that medals would not be awarded for the event should Valieva finish in the top three, an announcement that was greeted with controversy but was ultimately rendered irrelevant after she fell out of medal contention.
However, the medals for the team event remain on hold until her doping case is resolved.
Bach also noted the IOC have limited powers with regard to an athlete’s entourage unless they can be proven to be complicit in an offense. However, he indicated that there will be a robust investigation into how Valieva ended up with heart drugs – some reports claim a cocktail of at least three – in her system.
‘There is a positive A sample and that sample has to be dealt with,’ he said. ‘We are dealing with the rule of law, but at the same time we are dealing with a minor.
‘This is a 15-year-old girl who has a drug in her body that should not have been there. The ones that administered it to her, these are the people that are guilty.
‘An investigation into her entourage has to follow. I hope this will bring full clarity. The people who are responsible for this, they will be held to account in the right way, and when I say in the right way, I say in the strongest possible way.’