It appears Russian star figure skater Kamila Valieva received the cold shoulder from her coach after a mistake-filled performance during the women's individual competition dropped her from first place to fourth at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
When the 15-year-old skater, who is representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), failed to medal after she stumbled multiple times in her final skate last Thursday, she left the ice in tears.
But instead of being met with sympathy, Valieva faced questions from her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who asked the emotionally distressed teen:
“Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting? Well, explain. You let it go after the axel.”
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said the reception he witnessed towards the embattled skater was "disturbing."
Here are excerpts from Bach's statements, below.
The IOC President–who did not specifically mention Tutberidze by name–called the interaction he observed, "chilling."
"I must say I was very very disturbed yesterday when I watched the competition on TV," said Bach.
"For a girl of 15 years old and to see her struggling on the ice, seeing how she tries to compose herself again. How she tries to finish her program."
"You could in every movement, in body language feel that this is an immense mental presence that maybe she would have preferred to just leave the ice and try to leave this story behind her."
"But this was not all."
You can catch a glimpse of Valieva's interaction with the coach in the non-audio video clip below.
Bach continued telling reporters:
"When I afterward saw how she was received by her closet entourage with what appeared to be a tremendous coldness, it was chilling."
“Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere."
“If you were interpreting the body language of them it got even worse because this was even some kind of dismissive gestures.”
"You could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance."
Valieva previously made history as the first woman ever to land a quad jump and the first to land two of them in the women's free skate of the team final event.
But her impressive accomplishments in Beijing were quickly overshadowed when she became the subject of a doping scandal.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently investigating the adults around Valieva after she tested positive for trimetazidine–an athletic endurance-boosting heart medication that is listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited substances list.
Twitter had a hunch about what may have happened behind the scenes and weighed in with their thoughts on the entire controversy.
Valieva was granted eligibility to continue competing despite her failed drug test–which consequently drew scrutiny from the public and other competitive athletes–including former Olympian, Johnny Weir.
The retired figure skater called Valieva's participation in the Games, “the destruction of a young person."
Track star Sha'Carri Richardson also called out the IOC's double standards when she was banned from participating in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo following her suspension when she tested positive for THC metabolites–the intoxicant in marijuana, which is not used to boost athletic endurance, unlike trimetazidine.
Tutberidze was more compassionate earlier in the Games when Valieva's positive drug test results from back on December 25, 2021, were revealed after she first secured gold for the ROC.
Tutberidze told Channel One Russia, according to TASS, a Russian news agency:
"I want to say that we are absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and pure. And for us this is not a theorem, but an axiom. It does not need to be proven."
However, when Valieva failed to place in the top three and prevented a clean sweep of medals Tutberidze was hoping for after Russian skaters Anna Shcherbakova and Anna Trusova won gold and silver respectively, the coach withheld empathy for the fallen star skater.