Olympic Committee president says he is ‘disturbed’ by treatment of Russian skater Kamila Valieva
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said he was “disturbed” by the treatment of prominent Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva by her coach after her performance on Thursday, NPR reports.
“You could see this chilling atmosphere, this distance” from Valieva’s coaches when she got off the ice, Bach said, according to NPR. “I’m very concerned.”
According to NPR, Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze could be heard after the performance saying to Valieva in Russian, “Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel.”
The comments from her coach came after a disappointing performance from Valieva where she fell multiple times and was visibly distressed on the ice. After her performance, the teenager broke down in tears.
Valieva, who was the gold medal favorite, has been thrust into the global spotlight after she was allowed to skate following a positive test for a banned substance in December.
This is not the first time Bach has expressed concern for 15-year-old Valieva and other younger athletes competing in the Olympics, as the IOC has also asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate Valieva’s coach, notes NPR.
The IOC head said that he believes that Valieva’s positive drug test is likely because of her coaches and not Valieva’s own doing.
“Doping is very rarely done alone with the athletes,” Bach said.
Bach also floated the question of whether minors should be allowed to compete at an Olympic level with such immense pressure, but the IOC does not have the ability to limit age restrictions in the Olympics, NPR reports. Such responsibility is held by the individual international sports federations.
The Kremlin pushed back on Bach’s comments, saying, “Of course we respect his opinion but we do not necessarily agree with him.”
“He doesn’t like the harshness of our coaches but everybody knows that the harshness of a coach in high-level sport is key for their athletes to achieve victories.
“And we are seeing that the athletes are achieving victories. So let’s be proud of our winners, congratulate our medallists. Valieva was fourth but in high-level sport, the strongest wins.”