Vladimir Putin hits out over Winter Olympics doping scandal

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This photo shows Russian president Vladimir Putin standing next to teen figure skater Kamila Valieva.
Russian president Vladimir Putin insists there is no way teen figure skater Kamila Valieva competed 'dishonestly' at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Pic: Getty

President Vladimir Putin has defended controversial teen figure skater Kamila Valieva, insisting the 16-year-old could not have won Winter Olympics gold "dishonestly".

At February's Games Valieva became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition, helping the Russian team secure gold in the team event.

'NO VIABLE ALTERNATIVE': Wimbledon defends contentious Russia ban

'OH MY GOD': Tennis world erupts over Roger Federer announcement

It then emerged that she had earlier tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes because it can boost endurance.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) allowed Valieva - who was 15 at the time - to continue competing at the Games, citing her young age, though without clearing her of doping.

In the individual final, Valieva fell several times and finished in fourth place.

The International Olympic Committee decided not to award any medals for the team event until Valieva's doping case has been resolved.

The Russian teen crashed out in the final event of the individual competition after going in as a gold medal favourite, with the CAS decision to allow her to compete dividing the sporting world at the time.

However, the Russian president claims no illegal drug could help Valieva achieve what he described as "perfection" on the ice.

"The whole country, figure skating fans all over the world, were especially worried about Kamila," Putin said during a televised meeting with Russian Olympic medallists at the Kremlin.

Valieva has "absorbed all the most complex elements of figure skating - its flexibility, beauty, power and tenderness... and with her work brought the sport to the height of real art," Putin said.

"Such perfection cannot be achieved dishonestly, with the help of some additional means, manipulations... we understand and know this very well," he said.

Valieva's case instigated questions over whether the minimum age for competitors in figure skating, currently 15, needs to be raised to protect minors.

Sen here, Russia's Kamila Valieva competing in the figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Russia's Kamila Valieva is seen here competing in the figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Pic: Getty

Putin also said Russian and Belarusian Paralympians, banned from the Beijing Paralympic Games after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was a case of discrimination based on nationality.

"The suspension of athletes from Russia and Belarus not only directly violated the fundamental principles of sport but their most basic human rights were... openly, cynically violated," Putin said at a ceremony with Olympians and Paralympians at the Kremlin.

President Putin hits out at bans on Russian athletes

Russia's president also criticised the International Swimming Federation (FINA) for handing Russian Olympic gold medallist Evgeny Rylov a nine-month suspension for attending a rally backing Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine, calling the move "completely absurd."

Many international sports federations have barred both Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in international events over Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine.

Valieva's coach Eteri Tutberidze copped a raft of criticism in the aftermath of the teen's disappointment, with IOC president Thomas Bach admitting the "the tremendous coldness" the Russian athlete received from the coach was "chilling to see".

However, Valieva thanked her coaches - Tutberidze and Daniil Gleikhengauz - in a series of posts on social media after the Games.

Kamila Valieva has thanked her coaches after her controversial Winter Olympics campaign. Image: Getty
Kamila Valieva has thanked her coaches after her controversial Winter Olympics campaign. Image: Getty

“You are absolute masters at what you do! You not only train, but also teach how to overcome yourself, which helps not only in sport but also in life,” Valieva wrote alongside a photo of herself and her coaches at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“With you by my side, I feel protected and able to overcome any ordeals. Thank you for helping me to be strong."

In a separate message to fans, Valieva wrote: “I want to thank everyone who has been with me during this tough period: who was by my side and did not let me lose heart, who sent me supportive messages, who was just thinking of me, who prayed, who believed me and in me.

“Thank you, my fans, my family and friends, my coaches, the entire ROC team, my country, and people from all over the world.

“THANK YOU ALL!!!! I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL!!!! I will always remember this, be grateful to you and skate for you.”

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting