Valieva coach attacks ‘jackals’ after Olympic ordeal
Russian figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze has issued a passionate message in support of teenage star Kamila Valieva, lashing out at “jackals” after the youngster’s Olympic dream turned sour in Beijing.
After helping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to achieve gold in the team event, 15-year-old prodigy Valieva was tipped for similar honors in the women's individual competition until a doping sample from December 25 was reported as being positive.
Valieva was cleared to compete in a case that required intervention from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but by the time the individual competition arrived she had evidently been affected by the ordeal.
In a lengthy Instagram post on Sunday where Tutberidze sent public messages to each one of her charges in Beijing, including Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and silver medalist Alexandra Trusova, the coach staunchly backed Valieva.
"Kamila Valieva is an Olympic champion in the team event, our star," Tutberidze wrote.
"She is a very fragile and at the same time strong sportswoman.
"The ordeal which has befallen Kamila had to be overcome by our whole team together.
"How revealing such situations are," Tutberidze added.
"Those who were smiling yesterday, today left the stands, demonstratively ignoring and pouncing like jackals, offering different methods of inquisition.
"So much the better that fate takes such people away from us, as if exposing the truth."
Tutberidze, 47, came under fire from International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach after Valieva's fourth-placed finish.Bach accused the coach of creating a "chilling atmosphere" when greeting Valieva after her error-strewn routine.
Tutberidze has maintained Valieva's innocence throughout her ordeal after she tested positive for traces of the banned heart drug trimetazidine – something the skater's team say may have come from contamination via medicine her grandfather was taking.
The case is unresolved, although the Russian anti-doping authorities (RUSADA) and officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) say they will investigate Valieva's entourage.
Elsewhere, questions have been asked as to why it took so long for the WADA-accredited lab in Stockholm which checked the sample to return the result.
On Sunday, ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov backed Tutberidze while remarking that it "is difficult to imagine how much effort it takes Eteri Georgievna from year to year to cultivate such unique talents, to find strength, energy and motivation for outstanding work at such a high level with athletes of different character and style.
"And I fully share those words of support that have been said in recent days by our skating community," Pozdnyakov added.
Tutberidze is similarly backing Valieva, and used the same social media platform to confirm that the star has already returned to training in Moscow.
Tutberidze uploaded footage of Valieva on the ice on Sunday, after landing in Moscow to a hero's welcome on Friday, and tagged Valieva in a Stories post.
"Back to practice," Tutberidze captioned it.