The coach of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva has said that “there are still many questions” after the teenager was handed a four-year ban for an anti-doping violation.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Eteri Tutberidze said that, for two years, “undeserved and endless hate and accusations” have been thrown her way and that she too wanted to know “what happened with Kamila and how this substance got into her body” as all her “athletes have been and remain clean.”
Tutberidze added: “After two years, nothing has become clear, the origin of this drug has not been investigated, and there are still many questions. Only accusations from various sides continue to be directed towards us.”
Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart medication which can boost endurance, prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The positive test only came to light after the then-15-year-old had guided the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to gold in the figure skating team competition in Beijing, but this week’s ban means that Valieva has been disqualified from the event.
That resulted in a change in the medal standings, with US awarded the gold medal, Japan the silver and the ROC relegated to bronze.
The doping case has placed increased scrutiny on Tutberidze, who is frequently referred to as the most powerful woman in figure skating. She is the driving force behind Russia’s dominance in the sport, and her studio in Moscow attracts the best female figure skaters from across the country.
However, following the controversy at the Winter Olympics, many were left wondering how a 15-year-old was able to test positive for a banned substance.
Global Athlete, an athlete-led group working for change across the sporting world, called Valieva’s positive drug test “evidence of abuse of a minor” and pointed to a “power imbalance that sport leaders, administrators, and coaches have over athletes.”
However, Tutberidze has pledged her support to Valieva this week, saying, “I have no questions for Kamila; she is a child, and from my side, I will continue to support her in every possible way.
“Not to offend all my previous athletes – Kamila is the most gifted athlete. She has faced a trial that is difficult to describe in words,” the 49-year-old added.
Tutberidze also questioned if Valieva has been adequately represented during the hearing.
“Regarding the verdict, I have one main question – did anyone defend Kamila at the hearings? Because the verdict couldn’t have been worse. Kamila’s story is our pain,” she said.
CNN’s George Ramsay, Sandi Sidhu, Teele Rebane and Helen Regan contributed to reporting.