IOC president Thomas Bach said Friday it was “chilling” to see how distraught Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was treated by her coach after falling several times 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 favourite 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?”
Bach said: “When I afterwards saw how she was received by her closest entourage with what appeared to be such a tremendous coolness, 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 which began when Valieva’s sample from December 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.
The positive result was only revealed once the Beijing Games had begun and after Valieva had already helped the Russians win the team skating title.
The Valieva case has focused the spotlight on the participation of Russia at Olympic Games.
Russia is already under sanctions for a massive state-sponsored doping programme that reached its peak at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Russian athletes are competing in Beijing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee.
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