Valieva issues first message since Beijing ordeal
Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has thanked her training team in a social media message in which the teenager addressed her experience at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Valieva returned home to a warm welcome in Moscow on Friday after disappointment in China, where she finished outside the medals in the women’s individual event as the pressure of her doping case drama appeared to take its toll.
The case has seen Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze come under added scrutiny, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach accusing the trainer of creating a “chilling atmosphere” after the 15-year-old’s heartbreak.
But in a message shared with her 1.1 million followers on Instagram, Valieva said she was grateful for the support from her coaches.
“My first Olympics are finally over, and I would like to thank everyone who led me to this important moment in the career of a sportsperson,” read the message, which was accompanied by photos of Valieva in Beijing with her coaches and Russian teammates.
“My trainers Eteri Georgievna [Tutberidze], Sergey Viktorovich [Davydov], Daniil Markovich [Gleikhengauz]. You are absolute masters at what you do! You not only train, but also teach how to overcome yourself, which helps not only in sport but also in life.
“With you by my side, I feel protected and able to overcome any ordeals. Thank you for helping me to be strong,” Valieva said.
In a follow-up post which included a message in English, Valieva added: “I want to thank everyone who has been with me during this tough period: who was by my side and did not let me lose heart, who sent me supportive messages, who was just thinking of me, who prayed, who believed me and in me.
“Thank you, my fans, my family and friends, my coaches, the entire ROC team, my country, and people from all over the world.
“THANK YOU ALL!!!! I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL!!!! I will always remember this, be grateful to you and skate for you.”
The message follows an Instagram post from Tutberidze in which she showed that Valieva has already returned to training in Moscow.
The 47-year-old trainer has hit out at the response to Valieva’s Beijing saga, describing the reaction of “jackals” who were leading an “inquisition.”
Valieva helped the ROC team to gold in the figure skating team event in Beijing before a positive test for the banned heart drug trimetazidine was reported based on a sample taken on December 25.
The test was carried out by a laboratory in Stockholm accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but the result only appeared on February 8.
A Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel cleared Valieva to compete in the individual event in Beijing, although the immense pressure of the ordeal clearly showed as the gold medal favorite struggled with her final free skate routine.
The case continues to be investigated, with Tutberidze and other Russian officials maintaining Valieva’s innocence and noting that she repeatedly returned negative doping samples before and after the positive test – including in Beijing.