After Kamila Valieva debacle, IOC president takes rare shots at Russians_freckle removal perth

After Kamila Valieva debacle, IOC president takes rare shots at RussiansIOC President Thomas Bach joined the global bandwagon of support for Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva Friday, criticizing her entourage and questioning whether 15-year-old athletes should be put under such pressure at the Olympics.

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Teen skater gets wave of sympathy for ordeal endured in Beijing

Graham Dunbar · The Associated Press(Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

IOC President Thomas Bach joined the global bandwagon of support for Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva Friday, criticizing her entourage and questioning whether 15-year-old athletes should be put under such pressure at the Olympics.

His tone surprised Olympic observers – accustomed to hearing Bach defend Russian athletes despite the massive 2014 doping scandal – and drew a quick rebuke from Moscow.

Valieva's emotional breakdown after a mistake-strewn skate and unforgiving questioning by her coach made millions of viewers cringe, especially after a week-long drama over her positive drug test. Bach said he felt the same way, spending much of his news conference taking rare swipes at Russia.

"I was very, very disturbed yesterday when I watched the competition on TV," Bach said at an Olympics that began with Vladimir Putin sitting in the VIP section at the opening ceremony despite a Russian troop buildup near the Ukraine border.
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Bach had direct criticism of Valieva's entourage, saying they showed "a tremendous coldness, it was chilling to see this."

The IOC leader did not mention Eteri Tutberidze, though he clearly targeted the preeminent coach of Russia's dominant women's figure skating program.

Bach's words got him into a testy exchange with a Russian reporter. Later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Bach "does not like the toughness of our coaches, but everyone knows that in elite sports the coach's toughness is key to the students' victories."

WATCH l Valieva struggles in free skate, finishes 4th:

15-year-old Kamila Valieva struggles in free skate, finishes 4th

2 days agoDuration 9:02The Russian figure skater fell twice in the final skate of her controversial performance at Beijing 2022.9:02

The endless Olympic story of unethical behaviour by Russian sports officials is casting a shadow over a fifth straight Games in Bach's nine years as president. Many critics of the IOC say Valieva's doping scandal is a direct result of Russia flouting the rules for decades without real punishment from the IOC.

Olympic sports have lived through a decade of Russian doping and cover-ups after the home team was caught cheating at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a personal project of Putin. Through much of that time, the IOC and Bach made excuses for lighter than expected punishments.

Even in Beijing, Russia is technically banned from its third straight Games, but hundreds of Russian athletes are competing in their traditional colours with "Russian Olympic Committee" uniforms and flags. And they are winning medals – more than any country other than Norway.

The Bach-led IOC has consistently tried to keep Russia in the Games, citing the need to let a new generation of "clean athletes" compete as one reason not to ban Russia outright.

"This lack of leadership perpetuates athletes abuse and exposes the lack of oversight," Rob Koehler of the Global Athlete activist group said Friday.

Trusova, 17, brings up retirement

Global reaction to the Russian teenage skaters' tears after the women's figure skating results seemed to change the IOC's tone. Anna Shcherbakova won gold, Alexandra Trusova won silver, and Valieva stumbled out of the medals into fourth.

Trusova and Valieva sobbed as the scores were read, Trusova talked about retiring at 17 and viewers around the world questioned how youngsters could be put under such pressure.

Athlete mental health and safeguarding young women in sports are key responsibilities for sports bodies, and Bach had to react.

His attack on the entourage did not address the larger culture that has helped Tutberidze flourish, even as her athletes retire in their teens and suffer serious injuries. She is the International Skating Union's coach of the year and the most powerful figure in Russian skating.

WATCH l Mental performance expert breaks down Valieva's Olympic journey:

Mental performance expert breaks down Kamila Valieva's Olympic journey

2 days agoDuration 6:54Longtime Olympic sport psychologist Peter Jensen talks to Dylan Moscovitch and Asher Hill and puts Kamila Valieva's mental challenges in Beijing into context.Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tests positive for banned heart medication: reports

(editor:)

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