Kamila Valieva has been at the center of a doping controversy at the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Mike Tirico wants to see the International Olympic Committee to take action.
“Now, it’s time for the IOC to stand up,” Tirico said. “Whether it’s about blocking Russia from hosting events for a very long time or stringent and globally transparent testing for Russian athletes going forward, if swift action from the top of the Olympic movement does not happen quickly, the very future of the Games could be in jeopardy.”
News of Valieva’s positive drug test from Russian nationals in December emerged after she had already helped the Russian Olympic Committee to a gold medal in the figure skating team event. The Court of Arbitration in Sport ruled in a controversial decision that Valieva was permitted to compete in the women’s singles.
The doping scandal remained front and center as Valieva began her skates in the women’s singles event. She held the lead after the short program, but the prohibitive favorite slipped out of podium contention all together after falling several times during her free skate on Thursday. She was the last skater to take the ice, and her final program led to an emotional scene from Valieva and other competitors.
One group that remained visibly expressionless was Valieva’s coaches. IOC president Thomas Bach was critical of Valieva’s “entourage” in his end-of-Games press conference, saying “you could feel this chilling atmosphere.”
Tirico agreed, stating that Valieva was abandoned by her country throughout this scandal.
“Portrayed by some this week as the villain, by others as the victim, she is, in fact, the victim of the villains,” he said of Valieva’s coaches and the Russian Olympic Committee. “Whether they orchestrated, prescribed or enabled, all of this is unclear. But what is certain – they failed to protect her.”
Tirico cited the systemic, state-run doping program that was uncovered after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Russia has been unable to use its own name in the past three Olympic Games as part of their ensuing punishment. In the case of Valieva, Tirico believes “guilt by association” is necessary and that more sanctions need to be enacted.
“The deal that was brokered was supposed to ensure a level playing field while giving clean Russian athletes a chance to compete, but that scenario totally broke down here,” he said. “Now, a failed drug test from one of their athletes has tarnished one of the marquee events of the Games and taken away from every skater’s moment.”