Daily Sabah (Turkey)
IOC President Bach ‘disturbed’ by Valieva meltdown, hits out at coach
INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said Friday he was disturbed by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s performance and it was “chilling” to see how the distraught teenager was treated by her coach after the meltdown in the Beijing Olympics final.
Bach said he was “very disturbed” to see 15-year-old Valieva’s performance, having been controversially cleared to compete despite failing a drugs test in December.
“I was very disturbed when I watched it on TV,” Bach said of the calamitous free skate routine which saw the pre-competition favorite finish fourth and miss out on a medal.
After a visibly upset Valieva finished her performance, her famously demanding coach Eteri Tutberidze repeatedly asked her teenage charge “why did you let it go?”
Tutberidze later put her arm around the skater when she was waiting for her results.
Bach said: “When I afterward saw how she was received by her closest entourage with what appeared to be such a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this, rather than giving her comfort, rather than try to help her.”
The International Olympic Committee chief told a news briefing that seeing Valieva’s Russian teammate Alexandra Trusova also highly agitated despite the 17-year-old winning silver confirmed his concerns about the entourage around the young skaters.
“I was pondering about whether you can be really so cold but when I saw and read today how Alexandra Trusova was being treated, I am afraid that this impression I had last night was not the wrong one.
“All of this does not give me much confidence in this close entourage of Kamila, neither with regard to what happened in the past nor as far as it concerns the future.”
He said he hoped Valieva “has the support of her family, the support of her friends and the support of people who help her over this extremely difficult situation.”
Bach reiterated that the IOC had asked the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate the coaches and advisors around Valieva.
In response to a question from a Russian journalist about whether the IOC bore some responsibility for what happened to Valieva, Bach said: “There is a positive A sample and this positive A sample has to be dealt with and we were not ignoring them.
“We are following the rule of law and we are dealing at the same time with a minor, with a 15-year-old girl who obviously has a drug in her body that should not be in her body.
“And the ones who have administered this drug in her body, these are the ones who are guilty.”
The stumbling performance by Valieva was the latest chapter in a doping saga that began when Valieva’s sample from Dec. 25 tested positive for trimetazidine.
It is a drug used to treat angina but is banned for athletes by the WADA because it can boost endurance.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Valieva could continue competing, but has not cleared her of doping.