Honored Coach of Russia Eteri Tutberidze gave a frank interview to the former head coach of the Russian national football team Leonid Slutsky in project “Comment.Trainer”, but was inaccurate in details on the topic of the doping scandal of Kamila Valieva at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Sport correspondent tells what’s wrong with the specialist’s version.
So, the fragment that Eteri Georgievna began with a call to “put all participants in the process on a lie detector test,” and continued with the phrase “I want to know the truth,” smoothly flows into the description of those sad events. We pass the difficult part of Day X, when a notice of violation of anti-doping rules arrived (we remind you – with a violation), and we find ourselves at Kamila’s first training session since the beginning of the scandal.
Behind are several terrible days of confusion and confusion, ahead is a tiring night meeting of the CAS, which seems to give her the green light for an individual tournament, but it will no longer qualify for the “gold” one for her. In the meantime, Kamila steps onto the training ice with a wide smile and almost rushes over it – with relief that everything, as it seemed then, is over.
But Eteri Georgievna describes this day in the following words: “She didn’t understand why she was here, all the media started destroying her with questions, mocking her.”
That day in the mixed zone, Kamila was asked only one question. The entire Russian press – and there is documentary evidence of this in the form of dictaphone recordings – refused to harass the child with questions about what she still has no idea about. Instead, they shouted something encouraging to her like “you’re the best,” “you’re doing great,” “Camila, hang in there,” and stuff like that.
And then the British Riat Al-Samarrai from the Daily Mail took the floor. Acquaintances who rode with him in the shuttle to the training rink said that he honestly admitted his incompetence to others – for example, all the way to the arena he tried to remember Valiev and Trusov by sight, so that God forbid he would shout his question after another girl. And I remembered. And he shouted.
“Have you taken doping? Are you clean?” — he asked Kamila as she ran past the mixed zone in horror. I remember exactly that in response I asked him if he was ready to ask Simone Biles this question (without being negative towards Simone, if anything). Other Russian colleagues began shouting to send him out into the corridor, and at some point he almost ran away from us. We rushed after him to take a photo of his accreditation and complain to the IOC, the ROC, Sportloto – anywhere, so that this would not happen again.
We did wrong, but Al-Samarrai did absolutely right. At that moment he turned out to be a journalist, and we were a cheerleader in a uniform with skirts, but what else could be done? I remember that after all this, I sat down with a colleague from a competing publication on a pedestal for chairs a meter from the mixed zone and burst into tears. They sat and could not squeeze anything else out of themselves. “Why do they do this to a child?” – that’s all that was in my head then.
So, it wasn’t “the entire press” that bombarded Kamila with questions. And certainly none of us allowed ourselves to be bullied. Moreover, the next day we greeted her with applause and again did not ask anything, and this continued until the competition. Although it looks like I should have asked. At least then the words about bullying would be fair.
By the way, regarding bullying, on the first day Kamila left the mixed zone like this:
br>And Eteri Georgievna also has a story on this matter. “They wrote a lot: how is it that you abandoned the child when she went through the media zone alone? This is the Olympics, everything is strict here. The coach has accreditation, we can stand here and not go in from there. Everything is divided into zones. The athletes have access from the ice, they they go through this area to the locker rooms, where we cannot go. There is no such thing here that you go wherever you want and with whomever you want. Then I saw a video that she covered herself with a hood, and the next day she told her to be accompanied. And then what -they came up with something, they accompanied her somehow. And on the first day, yes, she went alone.”
Once again, the story emerges with nuance. Just a day after the hoodie, I was talking quite calmly in that same mixed zone with coach Mie Hamada, who had come to Beijing from the South Korean national team. The zone manager brought her to me – I simply asked that a specialist be called to me, and she followed exactly the same path as Kamila. No one bothered her, no one tried to stop her or send her away – on the contrary, there was a clear feeling that she was exactly where she was supposed to be.
Nearby, foreign colleagues were talking with Brian Orser. When they finished, Brian and I exchanged a few pleasantries, and no one even called the police on us for being in the wrong place. And this is not an attempt to refute the words of Eteri Georgievna. Rather, it’s simply a statement of the fact that no one blocked the coaches’ path to the mixed zone.
The story turned out to be resonant and very poignant. Not even in terms of hype – she just hurt a lot of people, including Camila’s teammates on the national team. The next day, the girls (all three) were accompanied by accompanying people – the head of the information service of the Russian Olympic Committee, Konstantin Vybornov, other representatives of our Olympic committee, the team doctor Philip Shvetsky, and even the Russian figure skating team coach Valery Artyukhov. Here he is, in another photo, walking a couple of days later with Valieva through territory forbidden for coaches, and no one really cares.
Let's move on to the main thing – doping.< br>
“Even when she was interrogated (at the Olympics after doping was discovered – editor’s note), I told her: “Kamil, quickly tell me what you had on the day of the short program.” She told me: “Some volunteer treated me to ice cream, some masseuse Chikmareva treated me to tea, someone else offered me something else.” I say: “Seriously?” And did you eat ice cream and drink tea there? And this all happened? Camila…” We teach and teach, but this is how it is. I think she probably has more faith in no one. This is where she changed.”
And now this is a version that is much more interesting than “grandfather’s glass.” It is difficult to say what the reasons for the appearance of this phrase are and whether this can be considered an unspoken confirmation that the defensive strategy of Camila’s side in CAS is what is called a “set-up,” but it is very similar to that. Because in private conversations with athletes, according to information, Kamila clarified that she was “strongly recommended” not to drink “other people’s water.” And at the Russian Championships in December 2022, Kamila’s mother brought the skater her own bottle right at a press conference in front of a crowd of journalists, which some colleagues even noticed.
But this is all speculation, and the facts lie elsewhere. It’s hard to get rid of the feeling that such words, uttered exactly during the break between hearings at the CAS, which were announced only in order to “collect additional documentation,” were said simply like that. Because this “treating you to ice cream, treating you to tea” in the midst of competition is a natural negligence of an athlete according to all existing anti-doping standards.
And if the interview manages to be filed in the case (there were precedents when quotes in the media played a role in the legal field), and the court accepts it and qualifies this fragment as negligence, Kamila can be disqualified without a twinge of conscience and the whole story can be closed. Perhaps even keeping the team medals. But it is also possible that with a one-year or two-year ban for Kamila, it will be titanically difficult to return after which, and it will be even more difficult to clear her reputation from the blot of a confirmed doping case.
In the end, it may happen that Valieva alone will remain to blame for this collective tragedy. Well, maybe that same masseuse Chikmareva is the new “shadow evil” of our sport. And even if Camila gets off with a warning, in the eyes of the whole world she will still be a violator and she will have to live with it all. And the adult uncles and aunts, whom the journalists actually tried to reach at the Beijing Olympics, will breathe a sigh of relief and, as if jokingly, remember the catchphrase from the movie classics: “It’s not our fault, she went for ice cream herself!”
The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.