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Olympic Committee leader says he's 'disturbed' by coach's treatment of Kamila Valieva

Russia's Kamila Valieva reacts after competing in the women's figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
ANTONIN THUILLIER
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AFP via Getty Images
Russia's Kamila Valieva reacts after competing in the women's figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

BEIJING — The coldness Thomas Bach witnessed from the coach of figure skater Kamila Valieva after her performance Thursday "disturbed" the International Olympic Committee president.

Bach stated repeatedly his concerns for Valieva, her teammates, and other minor athletes competing at the Olympic level. But the IOC leader resisted taking a hard line on implementing any changes in the immediate term.

For now, the IOC has asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate Valieva's coach and other team officials that surround her.

The 15-year-old Valieva competed at the women's figure skating competition following revelations she tested positive for a banned drug before the Olympics. The pressure of the days following that news clearly effected the young girl. She stumbled multiple times and fell during her routine. Afterwards she looked dejected and threw her hand in the air. When she skated off the ice, she broke down in tears.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach addresses journalists during a press conference on Feb. 18, 2022.
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach addresses journalists during a press conference on Feb. 18, 2022.

"You could see this chilling atmosphere, this distance" from Valieva's coaches when she gets off the ice, Bach said. "I'm very concerned."

He posed the idea whether minor athletes, like Valieva, should be subjected to such intense pressure to compete at the highest level of sports.

In that regard, Bach again kicked the ball down the court.

The IOC doesn't have the power to institute age restrictions in Olympic competition. That lies with the individual international sports federations.

"We will initiate such a discussion to give them some food for
thought in this," Bach said.

Bach also avoided answering a question on whether Valieva's coach, Eteri Tutberidze, has a place at the Olympics. He instead said again that the WADA inquiry will look into Valieva's entourage.

WADA is also investigating other circumstances of Valieva's positive drug test.

But Bach insinuated that positive drug test is likely a result of her coaches' involvement.

He said "doping is very rarely done alone with the athletes."

Tutberidze is most directly significant to Valieva's career. There are no public allegations, or evidence, that Tutberidze had anything to do with Valieva's positive drug test.

Reports say Valieva and her quad-landing teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova — who won gold and silver medals Thursday — are part of a large group teenage champions coming out of Tutberidze's camp. The coach develops young champions who essentially peak in their teens and then retire, often because of injury and after experiencing questionable practices regarding diet restrictions and over-training.

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