Valieva exerts pressure amid the controversy over doping at the Olympics

The 15-year-old figure skater at the heart of Russia’s latest doping scandal, now into its second week and with some form of settlement, appears to be the only person in the world who hasn’t revealed his teeth. about that.

Instead, Kamila Valieva continued her intense training at the Beijing Olympics amid a sea of ​​media and cameras as the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided whether she would be allowed to compete this week. An emergency hearing has been scheduled for Sunday night, with a ruling scheduled for Monday.

Valieva has yet to miss a scheduled workout since a drug test carried out in December was flagged last Monday for traces of a banned heart drug. It was also the day that the reigning European champion helped Russian skaters win a team gold medal in dynamic freestyle skating, in which she became the first woman to achieve a point. four in the Olympic competition.

However, it’s not always easy to fit in as the world revolves around her. In a number of cases, the stress seems to have come on Valieva, including a moment during Saturday’s practice when she fell during a three-axis hit and ended up sliding off the board and embracing her trainer. wrapped around me, Eteri Tutberidze.

“She’s a strong girl,” said Russian ice dancer Victoria Sinitsina, who, along with her teammate, Nikita Katsalapov, tried to give Valieva some much needed support as the three men in A hotel in Beijing determines the fate of her Olympic dream.

“I told her to stay calm,” Sinitsina said, “even if it’s a difficult situation right now.”

One way or another, Valieva will soon find out if she will be allowed to compete in the women’s short show on Tuesday. A CAS decision is expected about 24 hours before the gold-medal favorites take place on the ice at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

“Victoria had a few minutes to share a few words with her, and Kamila is a strong girl so she will be fine,” Katsalapov said. “(Victoria) asked her to, like, calm down a bit, even if it’s a tough situation around her.”

Valieva has yet to speak to the media since the post-gold Russia press conference, when the seemingly unstoppable star looked like a precocious teenager little by little. Between questions, she was snapping photos and texting with friends on her pink-cased cell phone, while squeezing the plush Bing mascot Dwen Dwen given to each medalist.

Her glee was unmistakable: “We all did such a good job,” she spat. “I’m very proud of my team.”

Now, their gold medals are all in the balance, which cannot be decided until after the Olympics are over.

The closed-loop system of the Olympic bubble, in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19, had the unintended consequence of giving Valieva some peace as she left the rink. No one stood up to the defense of the Olympic Village, trying to capture even the briefest of sounds, providing her with a bit of sanity from the restless news cycle.

Most critics on social media were also largely supportive of Valieva, instead leveling their anger at the Russian coaches and administrators responsible for her health. . That includes Tutberidze, who also coaches teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, and who has gained a reputation for using up and discarding her young athletes.

Mirai Nagasu, a member of the US figure skating team tweeted: “Be nice to the 15-year-old girl who tested positive for drugs because she lives in an organized system culture where she is more likely to be guided by and trust the adults around her” four years ago at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Ashley Wagner, another American figure skater who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, is appalled that Russia is at the center of another doping scandal, but appears to be constantly getting a license from the International Olympic Committee.

Wagner also targets a skating culture that often champions teenagers with little regard for their long-term health.

Yes, a 15-year-old can grow up and have a life filled with amazing experiences, but he’s still a kid, says Wagner. “She’s not the first kid to be put in this position and she won’t be the last unless we start looking at this seriously.”

At the center of the firestorm is Valieva, a high school student with translucent pink skate guardians and a beloved Pomeranian puppy returning home. She completed her record-breaking short program during Sunday’s rehearsal. Then, while dozens of cameras clicked to snap a photo, she reached down and touched the iceberg before walking away.

Let’s wait and see if Valieva is allowed to return.

“It’s always bad when something like this happens, so we’re sorry for any athletes,” said Russian ice dancer Gleb Smolkin. “I think like everyone else, we’re just waiting for the outcome of this story. We wish Kamila all the best. She’s a great athlete, she’s an athlete. great skater. She has a bright future.”

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