Embattled figure skater Kamila Valieva was met with swift criticism from her coach, moments after she completed an error-filled performance Thursday during the 2022 Olympics.
Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian athlete who is at the center of a doping controversy, fell out of medal contention during the free skate competition at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, finishing in fourth overall. Her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, was heard on the broadcast criticizing the outing.
“Why did you let it go?” Tutberidze, a former skater who is infamously strict, said. “Why did you stop fighting?”
An emotional Valieva held her face in her palms as her scores were read aloud. Tutberidze was photographed sitting beside Valieva, wrapping an arm around the teen’s shoulder.
Though heavily favored to win gold following a first-place short program, Valieva’s teammates, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra “Sasha” Trusova of the Russian Olympic Committee, finished first and second, respectively. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto placed third.
Valieva opened the Winter Games as the darling of the Olympics but swiftly found herself embroiled in a scandal after it was reported she had failed a drug test ahead of the team competition. The teen had tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart medication, in December.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Valieva on Monday, noting the teen, who is a minor, would suffer “irreparable harm” if disqualified. The IOC also ruled that there wouldn’t be an imminent medal ceremony if she placed.
NBC commentator Tara Lipinski, who along with co-analyst Johnny Weir has been critical of the ruling to let Valieva compete, said Thursday on the broadcast that she feels for the teen amid the fallout.
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“I can’t imagine how tough this has been on Kamila and it makes me angry that the adults weren’t able to make better decisions and guide her and be there for her because she is the one now dealing with the consequences,” she said. “And she’s just 15 and that’s not fair. With that being said, she should not have been allowed to skate in this Olympic event.”