Inconsolable Valieva was ‘killed’ at Olympics – coaching icon
Russian figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva's Winter Olympics destiny was decided before her emotional final performance at the Beijing Games, legendary coach Tatiana Tarasova has claimed after watching the 15-year-old end a campaign blighted by her anti-doping case with fourth place in the individual competition.
Pre-Games favorite Valieva led the field going into the women's singles free skate on Thursday, only to fall out of the podium places with an uncharacteristically error-laden performance that meant the medal ceremony, which the International Olympic Committee had said would not be held if she finished in the top three, went ahead.
World Figure Skating Hall of Fame member Tarasova, who won the last of her eight gold medals while coaching Russian athletes when Alexei Yagudin triumphed at the 2002 Games, admitted that it would have been impossible to comfort the visibly crestfallen Valieva afterwards.
Skating last, Valieva was unable to eclipse a stunning display by her compatriots as world number one Anna Shcherbakova took gold and Alexandra Trusova – who became the first woman to land four quads at the Olympics – secured silver.
“How can you console Camila?" asked Tarasova, suggesting that the star had been badly affected by a week of frenzied media coverage following the announcement of a drug test result from the Russian championships on December 25. "She was killed, killed, killed and killed. We saw it today."
Valieva held her head in her hands and wept after a showing that she was clearly not happy with.
The pressure on the prodigy would have been enormous even without her ordeal since news broke that she had tested positive for a heart medication that is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's decision to lift Valieva's provisional suspension following a lengthy hearing that Valieva admitted had been draining.
Despite being deemed a 'protected person' by WADA as a minor and being unable to mount a proper legal defense over the non-performance enhancing substance, Valieva has been portrayed by some media outlets as a symbol of what they perceive as a doping crisis involving Russia.
The International Olympic Committee had wanted Valieva to be suspended but had called for an end to speculation in a case that is expected to be fully explored only once the Games are over.
European champion Valieva also went into the event knowing that the gold medals the Russian Olympic Committee won in the team event – helped by her star performance – could be withdrawn over the saga.
Tarasova had sympathy for Trusova, who was also clearly upset after the event concluded.
“How can Trusova survive this?" Tarasova asked Championat, with her correspondent unable to answer that question while telling her they were 23 years old.
"Twenty-three? If at 23 you don’t know how to survive it, then how can she know at 17? I just have to cry."