Valiyeva in tears to gold?
The Suspicious Beauty
By Tobias Nordman
2/16/2022 6:06 am
There is (still) only one topic in Olympic figure skating: Kamila Valiyeva. The Russian, who tested positive for doping, is allowed to continue at the games in Beijing – and is on course for gold. However, the pressure of the past few days has left its mark on the 15-year-old.
When Kamila Valiewa stands on the ice, the magic breaks loose. In these minutes, it doesn’t matter what’s happening around the 15-year-old. In these minutes, the greatest scandal of the Olympic Games does not play an overly loud melody. When Russian superteen Valiyeva stands on the ice, everything looks wonderfully light, graceful, innocent. Perfect pirouettes, fantastic jumps and great emotionality. A golden symbiosis.
But also a suspicious one. Kamila Valiyeva tested positive for doping. Suddenly everything is in question. Suddenly, the interest of the world sporting public is focused on this super-teen who is so young. What a pressure. For the time being she withstood him. In the short program she was better than her 29 competitors despite a small wobble. But that’s kind of only marginal. If the Olympic champion is not called Valiewa, the new triumphant will only be a small by-product in the history books of the games.
Everything revolves around Valiyeva. And the question of whether she is the perpetrator or the victim. Victim of a system? This thought alarmed the sports world. The shadow of the frightening state doping during the home games in 2014 still hovers over Russian sport. Nothing is currently pointing to this, says the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of all people, who has a lot of problems with the topic of Russia and doping, which is at the expense of sovereign and consistent action . Well, says the IOC, it is an isolated case. However, many issues remain. Answers to this could also have consequences for the apparently incorrigible sports nation Russia. The two-year ban on major events expires in mid-December. The question arises as to whether the giant empire was sufficiently sanctioned by CAS, WADA or the IOC due to its past misconduct.
Alone with the question of guilt on the ice
The Valiyev case is so fascinating because it is so difficult to understand. And because the protagonist is a fragile teenager. One who you wouldn’t trust to be ripped off enough to wow the world with her smile and passion and coldly betray them behind their backs. Whether it’s a blessing or a curse that Beijing has to stand almost alone on the ice, without fans. But also without whistles. Alone with herself and her talent. But also alone with the question of guilt.
One would like to know what this girl thinks, what she feels when she competes in the dance for gold. One would like to know what the strange story is about that the doping agent (a heart drug) was in her grandfather’s glass, from which the 15-year-old may have drunk. Experts like the German pharmacologist Fritz Sörgel see this explanation of the Russian defenders at least critically, rather implausibly. He told the German press agency: “The amount for a positive doping test cannot get into the body through saliva on the edge of a glass.”
Valieva is drawn deeper and deeper into this maelstrom of oddities. It is all the more remarkable that she is on course for gold after the short program. She stepped onto the ice as the 26th of 30 starters. A little applause came from the sparsely packed stands. A little encouragement. To the piano piece “In Memoriam” by the Russian composer Kirill Richter, the Russian performed her program confidently, expressively and with nerves of steel, with the exception of a wobble in the triple axel. The difficult combination of triple lutz and triple flip was perfect. But then it broke out of her, she sobbed, a few tears ran. Valiyeva fought desperately to keep up appearances, not just cry uncontrollably. What a tearing moment.
Silence after golden preliminary work
When the score came up, she shook her head slightly. With 82.16 points, the Muscovite remained below her personal best of the season (90.45). Their lead is not large, second is the Russian world champion Anna Shcherbakowa with 80.20 points ahead of the Japanese Kaori Sakamoto with 79.84 points. How is she? Not clear. Valiyeva does not speak. At least not anymore. Didn’t appear at the press conference after the competition, although it was initially announced. A spokesman for the organizers said it was recommended to come to the press conference, but not an obligation. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) must be asked why Valiyeva did not come.
She had spoken after the judgment of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, which had approved the start permit in an emergency procedure after the positive doping test became known. “These days have been very difficult for me. I’m happy but emotionally tired at the same time,” she told Russian state television while crying. “These are tears of happiness, but probably also of sadness,” Valiyeva said. She is happy to be able to continue to represent Russia. One would wish that she could say these sentences of her own free will and with conviction. One would also wish that her second appearance at the Olympic Games after the team competition (where she already won gold on probation) was also of her own free will – and not under immense pressure from her environment.
But there are doubts. The Russian system does not allow weakness, as sports show expert Daniel Weiss says: “If she is blocked now, no one will be talking about her in six months. There are former Olympic champions whose names we have all forgotten – and who are now suffering from bulimia suffer, have alcohol problems or are anorexic.” It doesn’t matter for the badass system, a new child prodigy is found quickly. White is not alone. “The case makes you sad because there are only losers. But it also makes you angry because it doesn’t come as a surprise,” the “Spiegel” quoted the German athletes’ representative Maximilian Klein as saying. Valiewa is “victim of a system that encourages everyone to produce medals under inhumane conditions.”
Kati Witt in great concern
Kati Witt, the German double Olympic champion in 1984 and 1988, can’t let go of this case either: “If at all, the responsible adults should be banned from sport forever!” She wrote on Facebook: “What they might have expected of her , cannot be surpassed in terms of inhumanity and makes my sportsman’s heart weep.” The young girl, “who is enchanting the whole world with her athleticism and grace” is “not to blame”. As a young athlete, you follow the advice of your confidants “and in this case always first the coaching and medical team.”
The outcome of the case will only be decided after the games. The opening of the B sample is still pending, and WADA is also investigating in the teenager’s environment. There are several shady characters romping around there. The focus is on coach Eteri Tutberidse and team doctor Filipp Schwezki. Tutberidze has worn out numerous athletes, mentally or physically exhausted, they have ended their promising careers far too early. A fate that also threatens Valiewa. In the freestyle this Thursday she is the leader. Whether she can withstand the pressure again, this question is just as exciting as that of whether the top favorite should actually keep gold.