“It was chilling”: Thomas Bach shocked by the distress of Kamila Valieva at the Beijing Olympics

Thomas Bach did not wait for the many questions from journalists present at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) press conference to comment on the Kamila Valieva affair. After citing some great stories from the Olympics during his opening remarks, the IOC President returned to “the very sad story of Kamila Valieva”. “ I was very, very upset yesterday (Thursday) when I watched the competition on TV and saw in her performance how much pressure she must have felt. From my experience as an athlete, I know a little about the pressure but the pressure was beyond what I can imagine, especially for a 15 year old girl. » Favorite of the competition, Kamila Valieva finally took fourth place, falling twice during the free program.

“When I saw how she was received by her closest entourage, it seemed extremely cold to me”

Thomas Bach, IOC President

At the end of her catastrophic free programme, the Russian was greeted by her coach who asked her why she had “stop fighting after his error on a triple axel. “ When I then saw how she was received by her closest entourage, it seemed extremely cold to me.commented Thomas Bach. It was chilling to see that, rather than comforting her or trying to calm her down. It doesn’t give me much confidence in Kamila’s inner circle, either in terms of what’s happened in the past or in terms of the future, on how to deal with a 15-year-old underage athlete. years so visibly struggling. I can only wish that she receives the support of her family, friends, and people to help her overcome this extremely difficult situation. »

The existence of “irreparable harm” if deprived of the competition was also a key point of the decision. During the IOC press conference on Friday, several questions were asked about the obvious damage done to Valieva as a result of her participation in the competition. A Russian journalist questioned in particular about the responsibility of the IOC in this matter. “We appealed because we didn’t want her to participate and we lost in court.recalled Thomas Bach. We had to accept it. »

As pointed out by Thomas Bach, the question of the entourage, crucial in cases concerning protected persons, arises acutely. Especially since Eteri Tutberidze and the two coaches of his training center present at the Olympics (Sergei Dudakov and Daniil Gleikhengauz) also coach the gold and silver medalists, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, as well as many others Russian skaters. “The World Anti-Doping Agency has already confirmed that it will investigate with the necessary intensity” on the entourage, observed the IOC President who recalled that in his experience, “An athlete rarely doped alone”.“I hope that the investigation will allow the truth to be revealedhe continued, and that strong and appropriate measures will be taken. »