Figure skating showpiece ‘boring’ without Russians – Olympic queen
The absence of Russian stars from the World Figure Skating Championships will greatly diminish the showpiece being held in France this week, says 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova.
Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from all competitions by the International Skating Union (ISU) earlier this month in response to a recommendation from Olympic officials.
That means the likes of Beijing gold medalists Anna Shcherbakova and Kamila Valieva as well as fellow teenage star Alexandra Trusova will all be missing from the World Championships taking place in Montpellier from March 21 to 27.
For Sotnikova, who won gold for Russia in the women’s figure skating singles in Sochi, that makes the event a much less interesting spectacle.
“If you look at the big picture, the World Championships was interesting because there were Russian athletes,” Sotnikova, 25, told Match TV.
“And now, for example, it will be boring for me to watch it, because our athletes have set such a high bar.”
Russian women in particular have dominated the World Championships in recent years, winning five of the last six titles on offer.
At last year’s event in Stockholm, Shcherbakova topped the podium ahead of compatriots Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Trusova.
After being banned from this year’s showpiece in France, Shcherbakova and world record points holder Valieva will instead be among the stars to contest the Channel One Cup being held in the Russian city of Saransk between March 25 and 27.
Expectant Russia fans will welcome the chance to see their heroes in action, in what will be a comeback for Valieva after her doping case ordeal meant she endured a tortuous end to the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said at the weekend that it expects the Russian anti-doping authorities to have completed their investigation into Valieva’s case, which centers on traces of the banned heart drug trimetazidine being detected in a December sample, to be completed by August 8 at the latest.
Figure skating as well as short track and speed skating are just some of the sports to have slapped bans on Russian athletes after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that, wherever possible, Russian and Belarusian athletes not be invited to international competitions “until further notice.”
That stance has since been adopted by sporting federations ranging from karate to canoeing.
Russian athletes and officials have called the bans a “politicization” of sport, branding them discriminatory and a violation of Olympic principles.