Olympic viewers have applauded NBC commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir for their reaction to Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva’s latest performance.
On Tuesday, Valieva, 15, who was recently cleared to skate after she tested positive for a banned heart medication ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, participated in the women’s short program.
Following the 15-year-old athlete’s performance, however, both Lipinski and Weir made their thoughts about Valieva’s participation clear, as the duo remained largely silent.
“All I feel like I can say is that was the short program of Kamila Valieva at the Olympics,” Weir said in a video shared to NBC Olympics’ official Twitter page.
Lipinski then added: “And for all the other Olympic athletes skating here, I feel I need to say again, she had a positive test. We should not have seen this skate.”
“We are so sorry it’s overshadowing your Olympics,” Weir, a two-time Olympian, continued.
Gold-medallist Lipinski then acknowledged that she has said many times over the past year that Valieva is the “best figure skater I’ve ever seen,” before noting that “just saying that now not only makes me confused but it makes me angry, and again, disoriented by everything that I thought that I knew”.
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir weigh in on Kamila Valiyeva's short program. pic.twitter.com/LdjY4LQOvv
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 16, 2022
On Twitter, the commentary was met with messages of support from viewers, who agreed with the pair’s comments.
“Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir said out loud what everyone was thinking,” one person tweeted.
I love them. They're so honest in their commentary and how they feel about this whole situation https://t.co/droaP9yoBg
— Linda Kelly (@lkelly1123) February 16, 2022
Tara & Johnny are keep it honest. Yeah ok, she skated. She shouldn't have been allowed to. https://t.co/zCLsvvGibv
— MidwestCharm (@voter_indie) February 16, 2022
Their silence spoke volumes. https://t.co/212dOv7G4R
— Betsy B_Dragon Schaack 💚💛💙❤️😷💉💉💉🌈❄️ (@betsybblue) February 16, 2022
— Annie (@DILLIGAFever) February 16, 2022
Many others referenced Lipinski’s gold medal win at 15 at the 1998 Nagano Games, with one person writing: “Tara Lipinski won her gold at 15 without testing positive for anything so she’s allowed to say whatever she wants.”
“Thank you Tara and Johnny, not only for your brilliant commentary on the skaters’ programs during the Olympics, but on your honesty after this skater’s program. The Olympics are so tarnished from this!” someone else wrote.
Tara Lipinski won the Olympics at 15 years old without doping, so yeah she has all the audacity to say this. https://t.co/okGRwnlMYF
— Truth and Light (@SerenityPHL) February 16, 2022
Another viewer noted that the video shows the commentators giving “some #OlympicGames level shade” but that it was “also completely accurate”.
“I understand she’s only 15. But that doesn’t mean she can’t be held accountable for her actions and it doesn’t mean she gets to cheat. Also, Tara Lipinski won gold at 15... competing clean,” they added.
Following the duo’s commentary, Weir also reflected on the moment on Twitter, where he said that the women’s short program was the “hardest event that I’ve ever had to cover”.
“I want to thank you all for supporting the skaters that should be in this competition, whose life’s work is on the line,” the former Olympian added.
The women’s short program concluded with Valieva finishing with the highest score. She is expected to take part in the free skate on Thursday.
On Monday, after Valieva was cleared to continue competing, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the medal ceremony for figure skating’s team event, for which ROC was set to win gold, would not be held during the Games, and that if Valieva finishes in the top three of the women’s singles competition, the event will “conclude without an in-venue flower ceremony and without its medal ceremony”.
The figure skater failed a pre-Olympics anti-doping drug test after she tested positive for a banned heart medication, while The New York Times reports that there were also two other substances that can treat the heart but are not on the banned list in the teenager’s sample.