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17 Feb, 2022 20:28

Emotional Russian Olympic boss responds to Valieva drama

The Russian Olympic Committee president expressed empathy for Kamila Valieva and praised his team's podium one-two
Emotional Russian Olympic boss responds to Valieva drama

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) president Stanislav Pozdnyakov has expressed his organization's love for Winter Olympics figure skating champion Anna Shcherbakova and history-making silver medalist Alexandra Trusova, adding a note of sorrow for Kamila Valieva while noting her "talent and inner strength" at the Beijing Games.

On a dramatic final day of women's figure skating at the Games, world champion Shcherbakova secured glory in the individual competition and Trusova finished behind her, becoming the first female to land five quads at the Olympics along the way.

Much of the attention was on pre-Games favorite Valieva, whose surprisingly error-heavy final flourish only earned her fourth place after she had been allowed to continue competing following a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing over a positive drug test she passed at the Russian championships on December 25.

Pozdnyakov said that his own experiences as a father of two sportswomen made him more aware of the challenges facing devastated Valieva, offering his backing to the "poor girl".

One of his daughters, Sofia Pozdniakova, embraced Pozdnyakov in a touching moment during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, where she won fencing individual gold for the ROC.

"Such emotions," five-time Olympic champion fencer Pozdnyakov said after watching the action unfold on Thursday.

"It's still difficult to say anything. Anna Shcherbakova is a real champion who showed us her whole beauty and grace today.

"Alexandra Trusova, huge well done – an unreal skate in the free program. We love you.

"To all three girls, [for] your talent and inner strength we give a standing ovation."

Writing earlier in the day, Podznyakov used an official ROC channel to say that his organization opposed the International Olympic Committee's decision to recognize Valieva’s results in Beijing as only provisional.

Valieva played a starring role as the ROC won team gold last week, only to learn a day later that a heart drug which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list was found in a sample she gave more than six weeks ago.

That led to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) canceling the medal ceremony that would have presented the ROC with honors. A conclusion on whether the ROC's victory will be confirmed is unlikely to be reached in the near future, with Valieva's case set to be explored further after the Olympics.

“We categorically disagree with this,” Podznyakov declared. “Regarding the result of the team tournament, the Russian Olympic Committee has already sent a letter to the ISU [International Skating Union] in which it stated in detail the position that the results of the team tournament are not subject to revision under any circumstances, regardless of the outcome of the disciplinary investigation against the athlete.

“The anti-doping rules are worded in such a way that a review of results in a team event would only take place if the alleged anti-doping violation had been committed during the Olympic Games. We will defend this position consistently in any possible proceedings, including in the CAS, if required.”

The IOC had also announced that no medal ceremony would be held if European champion Valieva achieved a podium position.

The ROC stood ninth in the overall standings at the time of Podznyakov's announcement, winning five gold, nine silver and 12 bronze medals.

The Games continue until February 20 2022.