Annual report 2022: Kamila Valiewa – doping drama on the talent of the century

Status: 25.12.2022 09:34

Figure skater Kamila Valiyeva went to the Beijing Olympics as a Russian superstar. For the then 15-year-old, however, the dream of a medal ended tragically. The annual report of the sports program.

When a 12-year-old girl takes to the ice and takes her first powerful but graceful steps, everything calms down during training for the ice gala in Ingolstadt. We are in 2018, Kamila Valiyeva is on the ice.

Many think at the moment, including me: Another Russian child with a lot of talent, who will soon be lost in the almost inexhaustible mass of young people of this figure skating superpower.

Kamila Valiyeva – a gem on ice

In my hometown of Ingolstadt, the “Eisgala” has a history of more than 30 years, and enthusiastic spectators have already seen the best figure skaters in the world. This time too, we received the usual call from a figure skating agent from Russia.

I still remember his words very well: “Danny, I have an extraordinary talent for your show. Trust me. You’ve never seen anything like this.” I had heard these words many times before, but during the tour of the show, in Ingolstadt and later in Chemnitz, Regensburg and Oberstdorf, I became aware of what a gem on ice is.

Valiewa fascinates with its expression and elegance

During these four shows, Kamila Valiewa fascinated the audience with a maturity, expressiveness and elegance that one would not expect from such a young athlete. Their programs were peppered with triple jumps in extremely difficult conditions with bright headlights and reduced ice surface. Three shows, not a single mistake or wobble, then she fell on the triple Lutz at the last show in Oberstdorf.

After Kamila’s performance, I wanted to announce the next skater standing on the ice, but Kamila wouldn’t leave the ice. She waved to me that she wanted to run again to correct her mistake and that she would not be deterred. She then did a perfect triple lutz to thunderous applause.

The Russian talent of the century

Four years later. Beijing, Olympics 2022. I’m sitting in my reporter’s booth in Mainz, commenting on the figure skater’s team competition. Here she is again: Kamila Valiewa. Now everyone on the figure skating scene knows her.

Valiewa at the Beijing Winter Games

In Russia she is already a star, and now the world will see her. She chased one point record after another. At 15, she was already a Grand Prix winner, Russian champion and European champion. The face of Russian Winter Games propaganda. Now supported by the highest levels of government. Putin’s spokesman Peskov is married to a former world champion figure skater. You help each other.

Kamila enchants millions of spectators. She won the short program and the freestyle and single-handedly won the team gold of the “Russian Olympic Committee” ahead of the United States and China. Fairy tales, part one, I thought to myself at the time.

Prohibited substances for breakfast

Already in the early morning of the next day, the first rumors began to appear, and the name – Kamila Valiewa – quickly appeared. I’m really shocked and I don’t want to believe it. This young girl with her single mother would have taken drugs?

The facts are quickly on the table. During a doping test on December 25, various drugs were found in Kamila’s blood, including trimetazidine, a banned heart medication.

I’m on the phone with a friend from Russia who is extremely well connected in Russian figure skating. He tells me about training camps in recent years where “vitamin pills” were handed out for breakfast. “Young athletes take it without asking” says my skate buddy.

Fierce competition in Russia

I am stunned, but I remain convinced that Kamila Valiyeva received these funds without her knowledge. Your coach Eteri Tudberize is known for his tough hand. There is a lot of competition between the best coaches in Russia, the camps are mortal enemies.

During the Olympics, our ARD expert Katarina Witt and I agree that children have no place in the Olympics. At the age of 15 he is officially allowed to participate in the games, but in my opinion it is far too early for the psychological development of such a young athlete.

First of all, the bodies of young figure skaters are not yet fully developed, and this is the only way for them to handle the incredibly fast rotations of quadruple jumps. Katarina and I therefore demanded that the minimum age be raised to 18. With all the hundreds of talents that exist in Russia, the outrage over this proposal was of course great.

A 15 year old – broken under the pressure

After a global media challenge, Kamila was allowed to participate in the freestyle final on February 17, 2022. She collapsed under the pressure of this unbearable situation, made many mistakes and fell, and the worst in this story is that her trainer, Eteri Tudberidze, didn’t even have the decency to give her a comforting hug at the end of her freestyle, because that’s exactly what she would really need right now. What all children want when they’re not well: a protective hand.

Valiewa at the freestyle final

I said this in my comment almost exactly ten months ago, and even now these words immediately come to mind: “If I was her father, I would have brought her home a long time ago.”

Doping is always the wrong approach, but in this case I think it needs to be clarified who gave him these performance-enhancing drugs. Nobody believes in the fairy tale of the grandfather from whose glass Kamila allegedly drank.

Age limit raised immediately

Regarding the age limit, never in the history of figure skating has a rule change been implemented as quickly as this one. At the congress of the international federation this summer, a large majority voted in favor of raising the minimum age to participate in the Olympic Games to 17 years. 18 would have been more reasonable, but it was an extremely important step in protecting these young people.

Since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Valieva’s doping case in Russia has been deliberately delayed and suspended. Now the case has started to move: at the request of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has taken up the case and withdrawn the decision of the Anti-Doping Agency Russian.

The ban on Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA due to Russian state doping expires on Saturday. There is no end in sight to treatment.

WADA is convinced of a doping violation and has asked CAS for a four-year suspension for the 16-year-old. In addition, all medals, points and prizes earned are revocable from December 25, 2021.

For Kamila Valiewa, that would mean the end of her career, not to mention the psychological damage. But the worst thing is that the real culprits are still on the ice in Russia and already have their sights set on the next “talent of the century”.

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