Thomas Bach has spoken out on the “chilling” treatment of Kamila Valieva after the Russian figure skater, 15, imploded during her final performance amid the doping scandal surrounding her
Olympics boss Thomas Bach has blasted those with a duty of care to Kamila Valieva and revealed how “very disturbed” he was watching her implode.
The 15-year old Russian figure skater failed to win a medal after melting under the spotlight caused by her positive drugs test, yet still being allowed to compete.
Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said: “I was very, very disturbed when I watched the competition.
“I know from my time as an athlete a little bit about pressure, but this pressure is beyond my imagination. In particular for a girl of 15 years old.
“She tried to finish her programme and every movement in the body language, you could feel that immense mental stress. Maybe she would have preferred just to leave the ice and leave this story behind.”
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When Valieva did finally escape the stage, having fallen twice and crashed from first place to fourth, she was met by her scowling coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Bach was appalled by what he witnessed, as Tutberidze barked at the youngster: “Why did you let it go? Explain to me, why? Why did you stop fighting.”
He said: “I saw how she was received by her closest entourage with what appeared to be such tremendous coldness. It was chilling to see this – rather than giving her comfort, rather than trying to help her.
“You could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance. If you were interpreting the body language of them, it was even worse because this was even some kind of dismissive gestures I saw there on TV.”
Bach said what he witnessed “does not give me much confidence” in Valieva’s closest entourage, “neither with regard to what happened in the past, nor as far as it concerns the future.
“How to deal, how to address, how to treat a minor athlete at the age of 15 and under such obvious mental stress,” he continued. “I can only wish for her that she has the support of her family, her friends and people who help her over this extremely difficult situation.”
Of course, none of what happened at the Capital Indoor Stadium yesterday would have been possible had the IOC taken firm action against Russia following the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
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Had they acted on the report which flagged up state-sponsored doping and banned Russia completely from international sport for a period of time, rather than adopting a ludicrously half-hearted measure that allows the nation still to compete, perhaps the rouble would have dropped that either the doping stops or their participation does.
“You do not solve problems by ignoring them,” Bach said a couple of times today. Only that is pretty much what the IOC have done over Russia. And it has led the Olympics to the sorry situation it finds itself in today.