Figure skating favorite Valleeva allowed her to compete in the Games despite taking doping
At only 15 years old, Russian prodigy Kamila Valeeva came to Beijing’s figure skating favorite for the Olympic gold medal. Instead, she became embroiled in a doping scandal that could have resulted in her being expelled from the Games and would pursue her for the rest of her young career.
“When I was three I was telling my mom, ‘I want to be an Olympic champion,'” she said after leading the Russians to gold in the team event on February 7.
“I think my next dream will also come true,” she added, in an apparent reference to the women’s singles competition that begins on Tuesday.
She will compete, but under heavy scrutiny, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday ordered her to remain in the Beijing Olympics despite failing a pre-game doping test.
And if she wins, her cherished gold is in danger of being taken, along with the team gold she played a key role in last week, before the controversy erupted.
Before all this, Valieva looked like she was unstoppable, winning every major competition she entered into in the 2021-22 season.
Her ability to land the most difficult jumps, it seems, is matched by a talent for emotional performance and ballet agility.
The teen came to Beijing after winning the Russian and European championships – and quickly became the first woman to land the quadruple jump in the Olympic competition last week.
Former figure skater Katharina Witt said Valeeva “is not to blame here.”
Witt won gold in 1984 and 1988 for East Germany – whose full medal winning strategy has since been revealed based on state-sponsored steroids.
“As an athlete you always follow the advice of those close to you, in which case you may have followed her coach and medical team,” Witt wrote on Facebook. “You were taught from a young age to trust them.”
She added, “The steroids won’t help her land these (quads)!!!”
Russian runners are participating in Beijing on behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after the nation was banned due to a massive state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Valieva trains with Eteri Tutberidze, a household name in Russia known for producing teen skaters capable of technical brilliance.
The coach’s success was dashed by controversy, as many of her former students left her or retired early.
On Valeeva’s page for athletes in Beijing 2022, Tutberidze is listed as her champion.
“I feel this burden” Valeeva comes from Kazan, in southwest Russia, and started skiing when she was three.
She moved to Moscow with her mother after three years for training.
She really stunned the world of figure skating when she was little – her dog Liova, a Pomeranian who makes a big appearance on her Instagram account, was a gift from her fan club after winning the competition.
But Valeeva told International Figure Skating Magazine in 2020 that she didn’t like the attention that came with her fame.
“I know it’s there and I’m trying to prepare for it,” she said.
On the ice, she looks almost ethereal, much older than her 15-year-old.
Outside of her, her youth is evident.
“I’m feeling this little burden, this pressure, because this is my first season among adult skaters,” she said at a press conference in Beijing before she broke the news for the wrong reasons.
“I think I deal with that pressure — sometimes it pushes me forward, it helps me,” she continued.
“This is a very vulnerable little girl and yet she focuses on the best qualities of the figure skater. She is the motivating factor for the whole team,” said the 30-year-old Katsalapov.
Asked to clarify what he meant by “fragile,” he said she was “still strong, stronger than me.”