Beijing 2022 | “It was chilling to see”: the harsh criticism of Eteri Tutberidze, the controversial coach of the Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva

Kamila Valieva finished fourth due to her errors on the track.

Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

“Instead of comforting her, trying to help her, you could feel that chilling atmosphere, that distance“. are the words of President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bachabout Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze’s treatment of 15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valieva following her uneventful performance in Thursday’s singles final.

Despite being subjected to additional pressure by the recent doping scandal in which the 15-year-old girl was involved and the questions about whether or not he should compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, Valieva had been the best in the short exercise.

Kamila Valieva in the figure skating final

Getty Images
After an impeccable performance in the short exercise, Valieva failed in the decisive test

However, in the decisive long exercise he made several mistakes and suffered two fallsso he was in fourth place and the gold went to his partner Anna Shcherbakova, 17 years old.

When she walked off the court in tears, the teenager received no hugs or comforting gestures from her coach.

Instead, Tutberidze told him: PWhy did you stop fighting?

Why did you let it go? Explain it to me, why?“, the coach asked her disciple, although later she did wrap her arm around her shoulder while they waited for the score.

Valieva and her trainer

Reuters

“When I saw how she was received by her immediate entourage, apparently with tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see,” said the IOC president.

Bach said he was “very, very disturbed” by what he saw on television at the event and questioned the way “how to treat an athlete under the age of 15 under such obvious mental stress” by the Russian Olympic Committee team.

“All of this doesn’t give me much confidence in Kamila’s immediate environment, nor in what happened in the past, nor in regards to the future,” he said.

Thomas Bach, IOC President

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The IOC president did not hide his discomfort at the treatment of the young skater

Valieva is the subject of an anti-doping investigation after testing positive for trimetazidine, a drug against angina pectoris on the list of prohibited substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency

The young woman’s positive was at the end of December, although it was not known until February 8, when she had already won a team gold.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) allowed Valieva to continue competing in Beijing 2022 having tested positive before the Games and to avoid causing “irreparable damage”, although the investigation and a disciplinary procedure continue.

The Kremlin’s response

Thomas Bach’s words resonated in the political sphere, to the point of receiving a response from the Russian government this Friday.

“We respect his opinion, but we don’t necessarily agree with him,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“He does not like the toughness of our coaches, but everyone knows that the toughness of a coach in high-level sport is key for his athletes to achieve victories,” he argued.

Eteri Tutberidze receives the Order of Honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin

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Eteri Tutberidze received the Order of Honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin

Coach Eteri Tutberidze, 47, has been the subject of controversy in the skating world for his harsh training methods and for applying them almost exclusively to skaters between 13 and 17 years old.

“Girls should learn quad jumps young, when they are still light and agile,” she declared in 2018.

The reality is that several of his former students dropped out early.

And the fact that Valieva has now tested positive for a banned substance has caused many to question whether the coach and the other adults in the skater’s entourage really have her well-being in mind or are willing to do anything to get a medal.


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