Kamila Valieva took to social media on Monday to thank her coaches and fans for their support following her first Winter Olympics – one which was shrouded in controversy as the 15-year-old became embroiled in a doping scandal.
In a series of Instagram posts, Valieva began by thanking her coaches, including Eteri Tutberidze and Daniil Gleikhengauz.
“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,” she added.
Valieva arrives back in Russia after the Winter Olympics. - Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
Her message was signed off with a series of thank yous in various languages.
In a separate message directed to her fans, Valieva wrote in Russian and English: “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.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which regulates the use of drugs in international sport, said it will be investigating Valieva’s entourage – the adults responsible for her skating and welfare – following her positive test for banned heart drug trimetazidine in December.
That includes Tutberidze, who is known for training some of the world’s best figure skaters. The coach told Russian TV earlier this month that she is “absolutely sure that Kamila is innocent and clean” after her athlete tested positive.
Valieva returned to Moscow on Friday with her doping case still unresolved having been cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to take part in last week’s women’s individual figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics.
She finished fourth in that event, leaving the ice in tears after falling and faltering during jumps in her routine, despite having previously been the favorite to take gold.
Supporters of Valieva await the figure skater's arrival at the Sheremetevo airport outside Moscow. - Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
Valieva’s positive test emerged soon after she won gold in the figure skating team event with the Russia Olympic Committee (ROC) in Beijing.
Suspended by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on February 8, the body lifted Valieva’s suspension the next day following a hearing.
WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Skating Union (ISU) then subsequently filed an appeal against the lifting of the ban, but CAS subsequently ruled that it should remain lifted.
Chair of the IOC Disciplinary Commission, Denis Oswald, told reporters on Tuesday that Valieva had blamed the positive test on a mix-up with her grandfather’s drugs, as he uses trimetazidine for his heart condition.
RUSADA now needs to determine what, if any, sanctions will be imposed on Valieva as the initial suspension was only provisional. If sanctions are imposed, WADA must decide whether or not to appeal the decision, with any appeal being heard by CAS.
While Valieva’s case remains unresolved, medals cannot be awarded from the figure skating team event at the Winter Olympics. The ROC won gold, ahead of USA in silver and Japan in bronze.
CNN’s David Close, Jacob Lev, Jeevan Ravindran, Selina Wang, Sandi Sidhu, Teele Rebane and Helen Regan contributed to reporting.
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