Figure skaters sound off on Valieva’s Olympic doping scandal

Feb 14, 2022, 4:14 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2022, 7:05 am
Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, practices ahead of the women's short program duri...

Kamila Valieva, of the Russian Olympic Committee, practices ahead of the women's short program during the figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Figure skaters and coaches competing against 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva shared a range of views about the doping scandal that has caused havoc at the Beijing Olympics and overshadowed the marquee women’s contest.

Valieva was back skating at Capital Indoor Stadium on Tuesday in the women’s short program, a day after she was cleared to compete in the individual event.

The controversial ruling was made Monday by a Court of Arbitration for Sport panel at the Olympics. Valieva already earned a gold medal when the Russians won the team event last week.

The medals won’t be presented in Beijing by the IOC, however, because the Olympic body is waiting for the longer-term investigation of Valieva’s doping case to play out.

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“Obviously it’s not a level playing field and it should be. Every sport should be a level playing field and, you know, we don’t get that opportunity here. But that’s the decision they’ve made and obviously we have to stick with that … I feel sorry for anyone who gets on the podium here. They won’t get that experience of being on the podium, and I feel like that would be such a big part of being at the Olympics, getting your medal. So it’s quite sad that they won’t get their medals.” — Natasha McKay of Britain.

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“I didn’t believe it … The girls are such that nothing would have helped them if they didn’t have that kind of talent. It’s just funny to even think about it. They’re just talented and do a lot of work. So no one should have any questions on that point … A gold medal or a silver or bronze, it could be a shame if you don’t receive it. It’s an Olympic medal and it should be there in any circumstances.” — Anastasiia Shabotova, a Russia-born skater competing for Ukraine.

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“I definitely feel sorry for her. I think this doesn’t really have much to do with her herself. She’s pretty much a product of the adults around her. So I have a lot of empathy for her because she, regardless of everything, she did have to get on the ice and work hard, no matter what happened around her. She did endure a lot. So I feel sorry for her, but rules are rules and they should be followed.” — Alexia Paganini of Switzerland.

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“It’s obviously a very touchy subject. I can only speak for myself and that I advocate for clean sporting. That’s the whole idea of the Olympics and our careers, in general … It’s a tough situation for everyone. And it’s unfortunate that it’s taking place at the Olympics … It feels wrong to punish people who have done this the right way.” — Mariah Bell of the United States.

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“Disgrace.” — Adam Rippon, a 2018 Olympian and the coach of American skater Mariah Bell.

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“I don’t know all the facts about it, so I’ve tried to focus on like what I can do good for skating and how to put a positive, positive thing into this Olympics. But of course, you know, it’s difficult to decide because I don’t even know if she tested positive in both the tests or anything … So I hope that the leaders of this investigation do what they should do. And yeah, I think the time will tell … If I would be fourth, then it would be a really tough time.” — Josefin Taljegård of Sweden.

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“I really was looking forward to be on the podium with my teammates and just sharing that moment, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that felt that way. … But what can we do? It’s out of our control and, whatever it is, we just got to go with it and go with the flow.” — Karen Chen

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Figure skaters sound off on Valieva’s Olympic doping scandal