Valieva finds support in Russia amid Olympic tumult
Russian figure skating pundits, former athletes, journalists, and fans have rushed to support Olympic figure skating star Kamila Valieva, who has been caught up in allegations of a doping investigation.
The medal ceremony for the figure skating team event won by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has been delayed indefinitely in Beijing amid claims of a positive test among a member of the team.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials have said a "legal issue" is ongoing and have refused to comment on further on "speculation."
Russian officials have likewise urged patience and an end to premature speculation before an official statement from Olympic officials.
Reports in the Russian media have claimed that Valieva, 15, returned a positive test for traces of the banned substance Trimetazidine, which can be used to treat chest pain, prior to the Beijing Games.
Amid the claims, the skater was seen training in the Chinese capital on Thursday as Russian officials firmly denied that she had been suspended.
Figures from Russia, meanwhile, have been reacting to the reports.
One of the most successful Russian coaches in figure skating history, Tatiana Tarasova, has refused to believe that Valieva committed any offense.
“I don’t believe it! No! No! This can’t be true; she is just a little girl! I don’t believe in this madness. This simply can’t be true. She is an amazing girl and athlete. I’m sure everything will be ok, the gold medal will be ours, you will see,” Tarasova told Sport-Express.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Tatiana Volosozhar agreed with Tarasova, offering to create the hashtag #willneverbelieveit in support of the skater.
“I agree with Tatiana Anatolyevna (Tarasova)! #WillNeverBelieveIt – let’s support Kamila with this hashtag,” Volosozhar wrote.
“Kami, my heart is with you, everyone is with you! Stand firm, girl!!!
"I proudly show my daughter together with the genius 15-year-old figure skater! And I will keep showing it no matter what the press writes about her!”
Olympic champion ice dancer Tatiana Navka sent “rays of support” to the skater.
“Little, tiny and beautiful angel with a true sports character, Kamila Valieva, who makes history on the ice showing art and beauty and sending unbelievable emotions to us!” wrote Navka.
“Dear Kamila, we, the entire country, support and cheer you up! I’m sure you have enough strength and wisdom despite your tender age. My sweet angel, I wish you not to pay attention to anything.
“Stay strong and concentrated and move forward with your head up. You are a star, an Olympic champion! We believe in you! I’m sending you rays of support and love wishing that you achieve the result that you truly deserve!” she added on social media.
Others such as figure skating legend and the only skater in history to win three Olympic titles, Irina Rodnina, were less supportive as she claimed the scandal was a "stab in the back" for the country and its athletes.
Valieva has found herself at the center of the doping row just days after helping the ROC to the figure skating team title in Beijing.
Valieva made history in the event by becoming the first woman ever to land a quad jump at the Olympics.
The reigning European and Russian champion, Valieva is widely tipped for gold in the singles event, where the ROC team will also be represented by Alexandra Trusova and world champion Anna Shcherbakova.