Kamila Valieva drug case puts adults in the limelight

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) still dominates the event, with compatriots Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova in first and second place respectively. Kaori Sakamoto of Japan finished third.

Veliva was set for a gold medal in the event, but fell several times during his free skate routine. The 15-year-old stood alongside his coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who is now in the limelight.

Denis Oswald, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Disciplinary Commission, told reporters on Tuesday that Veliva blamed her positive drug test on a mix-up that occurred with her grandfather’s drug.

However, the results came out only during the Olympics. Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport gave Valieva the green light to continue competing in the Games due to the exceptional circumstances of being a minor.

The fact that Valieva is a child and has failed a drug test has brought renewed attention to the adults around her and the supposedly dark underworld of Russian figure skating beneath the shiny surface.

“It is clearly the will and decision of the IOC, but also WADA to investigate all aspects of the matter, including the situation in the neighborhood, because of course you can imagine that a 15-year-old girl alone could Won’t do wrong – so yes, Entourage will be scrutinized,” Oswald said.

Global Athletes, an athlete-led group working to change sports, called Valiva’s positive drug test “evidence of minor abuse”.
Kamila Valayava of the Russian Olympic Committee in action Thursday night at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which regulates the use of drugs in international sports, said it would investigate the crew of the 15-year-old – the adult responsible for her skating and welfare.

CNN has reached out to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) for comment from Tutberidze and ROC team doctor Philip Shvetsky on the points raised in this story, but has not received a response.

“These (the last few) days have been very difficult for me,” Valeeva told Russia’s Channel One earlier this week after training. “It’s like I have no emotions left. I’m happy, but at the same time, I’m emotionally exhausted.”

Valieva’s coach in limelight

At the center of the controversy – and the world of Russian skating – is Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze.

Often called the most powerful woman in figure skating, Tutberidze is the driving force behind Russia’s dominance in the sport. Her studio in Moscow attracts the best female figure skaters from around Russia, who are trained from an early age to break records and perform dazzlingly complex jumps, several coaches and skaters told CNN.

Valieva made history last week by becoming the first woman to land a quad at the Olympics, and most recently female Russian skaters have been known to push the boundaries on moves that range from triple axels to triple flips and other difficult combinations. they can do.

“We are absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and clean,” Tutberidze told Russian TV last week.

Tutberidze is also infamous for its brutal training rules.

In an interview with Russian TV in December, She said her skaters train 12 hours a day, adding that they “can always do more, demand more of themselves.”

Yulia Lipnitskaya (R) and her coach Eteri Tutberidze during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014.

Coach has coached a range of Olympic medalists, but it also examines how the careers of their best characters have been short-lived.

Like Veliva, Yulia Lipnitskaya was 15 when she helped Russia win gold in the team event at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But at the age of 19, Lipitskaya retired from figure skating after a battle with anorexia and injuries.

Evgenia Medvedeva was 18 when she won two silver medals at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, one each for the singles and team events. The two-time world champion had informally retired from competition last year citing back injuries.

And Medvedeva’s teammate Alina Zagitova, who won gold in Pyeongchang when she was 15, announced an indefinite break from competition at the age of 19. Zagitova’s dominance was record-breaking: she was the first skater from Russia to win Olympic gold, the World Figure Skating Championships, the European Figure Skating Championships and the Grand Prix of Figure Skating.

All three were trained by Tutberidze.

But Tutberidze also has a lot of supporters. Russian figure skater-turned-coach Anna Pogorilya, who trained briefly with Tutberidze in his studio, described her as “an iron lady” in an interview with CNN.

“She’s so dedicated to her business… To her, every athlete is like her own child,” she said, adding that she doesn’t believe Tutberidz will pressure her skaters to take performance-enhancing drugs.

“I’m 100% sure she can’t force her athlete to take anything. I’m 100% sure they’re clean,” Pogorilya said.

Team doctor was banned for doping violation

Another adult close to Valieva is ROC team doctor Philip Shvetsky.

The World Rowing Federation confirmed to CNN that Shvetsky was the team doctor for the Russian rowing team.

In 2007 he was banned by Russia for a doping violation, according to Jim Walden, the lawyer for Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, who is under witness protection in the United States.

World Rowing says three members of the Russian Rowing Federation were declared ineligible for two years for violating the World Anti-Doping Code. He was reinstated by Russia in 2010.

“But this guy (Schwetsky) who’s got a history with performance-enhancing drugs suddenly shows up as a doctor to this 15-year-old skater… and reportedly, he tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug. does,” Walden said.

ROC figure skating coaches Daniil Glickengauz, Eteri Tutberidz (LR Front) and team doctor Philippe Shvetsky attend a training session in Beijing.

Walden said Valieva’s position should be viewed in the context of Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal.

Russian athletes competing in the Olympics are already in the shadow of a history of illegal doping: WADA barred Russia from international competitions in 2019 over a doping violation. Under the ban that expires later this year, they are only able to participate in games as neutral.

Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, blamed the US and formed the basis of a 2016 McLaren report, which found that more than 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from a systematic doping program between 2011 and 2015. Dozens of Russian athletes were banned. After the 2014 Sochi Olympics – where Russian athletes won more medals than any other country.

Opinion: Even if Kamila Valieva wins, she loses

Russia continues to refute Rodchenkov’s allegations, saying he personally gave the drugs to athletes who were unaware they were taking banned substances.

Under the ban that expires later this year, Russian athletes are only able to participate if they can prove they are clean. They compete under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee, not technically under the Russian flag.

“Russia is not writing on a clean slate. Russia has had a state-sponsored doping program since at least the 1960s. It is very well established, it is heavily documented. And so when a Russian athlete is positive At trial, the Russian state isn’t doing anyone any favors because there’s now a presumption of guilt rather than a presumption of innocence, which is terrifying for the 15-year-old skater,” Walden said.

In 2020, the US government signed the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, allowing it to impose criminal sanctions on individuals involved in doping activities at international sporting events featuring American athletes, sponsors and broadcasters.

Walden suggested that the US could use the law against Valieva’s party.

“I’m pretty sure the FBI and the Department of Justice are already going to investigate to try to set an example from Russian coaches, doctors, coaches, etc., who were responsible for harming this young athlete,” she said. .

Russian athletes and heart medicines

Valiva tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine and the merits of that positive test are under investigation. But this isn’t the first time Russian athletes have been drawn to using the drug or a “close relative” of the drug, Walden said.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova served a 15-month suspension in 2016 after testing positive for the banned substance meldonium. Sharapova denied doping and said she was first prescribed meldonium for heart problems in 2006 and was unaware of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Recently it was added to the list of banned substances as she was taking prescribed medicine by any other name.

The usual course of treatment is a matter of days to weeks, according to the medicine’s prescribing label. It’s not known why Sharapova’s doctor prescribed the drug for years.

In Pyeongchang 2018, two Russian athletes – mixed doubles curler Alexander Krushelnitsky and bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva – were barred from walking behind the national flag during the closing ceremony after testing positive for banned substances. Krushelnitckii tested positive for meldonium and Sergeeva tested positive for Trimetazidine in an out-of-competition test.
Kamila Valieva (R) and Eteri Tutberidze attend a training session on February 12, 2022.

“So not only does Russia have a long history of state-sponsored doping, they have a history with this specific drug,” Walden said.

In an interview with Russian TV in 2019, Valeeva’s coach Tutberidze defended meldonium as harmless, adding that it “helps the heart muscle to recover.”

The ROC said in previous statements that Valieva had already “repeatedly passed doping tests” while in Beijing, adding that it was taking measures to maintain Valieva’s “honestly won” gold. .

“The doping test of an athlete who tested positive does not apply to the duration of the Olympic Games. At the same time, the athlete passed repeated doping tests before and after December 25, 2021, including the first in Beijing during the figure skating tournament All the results are negative,” the ROC statement said.

“The Russian Olympic Committee is taking comprehensive measures to protect the rights and interests of ROC team members and to preserve the honestly won Olympic gold medals.”

All figure skaters have shed years of blood, sweat, and tears to get into the Olympics, but the doping scandal threatens to steal their moment, and the Games may be remembered not by performance, but by performance-enhancing drugs. Is.

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