Controversy at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

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Anna Shcherbakova sits alone following her gold medal win (Photo courtesy of Today.com).

She was the favorite to win. Or that’s what the world thought. 

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were marred with controversy, especially concerning Russian figure skaters Anna Shcherbakova, who won gold; Alexandra Trusova, who took silver; and Kamila Valieva, who landed fourth place after her doping scandal. 

Kamila Valieva, the favorite to win gold, was embroiled in a major controversy when her December 25th drug test came back and revealed that she had tested positive for Trimetazidine, a banned drug. Despite this, Valieva was allowed to compete under the premise that if she scored in the top three, the International Olympic Committee would not hold a medal ceremony. 

However, during Valieva’s event, her typically flawless routines were replaced by multiple blunders and falls. As she left the ice, Valieva was reprimanded by her coach, the esteemed Eteri Tutberidze.

“Why did you let it go? Explain it to me, why,” Tutberidze says. “Why did [you] stop fighting? You let it go after that axel. Why?”

Commenting on this treatment of Valieva, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said, “I afterwards saw how she was received by her closest entourage, with such, what appeared to be a tremendous coldness; it was chilling to see this. Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her, you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance.”

Also under the guidance of Tutberidze, Alexandra Trusova placed second. Before the games, she was told she would take home the gold if she performed five quadruple jumps. And so Trusova performed just that, despite having been injured last year. But she lost to her own teammate. As the winners were announced, the world watched as tears streamed down Trusova’s face. 

“I hate this sport,” Trusova exclaims. “I won’t go onto the ice again!”

Trusova had made history with her free skate routine, but it was ultimately not enough to land her the win. Her apparent bitterness resulted in scathing remarks left by viewers who watched her poor act of sportsmanship. 

She later stated that her state of distress was caused by missing her family and dogs. 

As the drama continued to unfold, Shcherbakova, who had just won gold, sat alone while clutching a teddy bear. 

“I still don’t comprehend what has happened,” Shcherbakova says. “On the one hand I feel happy, on the other I feel this emptiness inside. I don’t feel like it’s me they’re talking about.”

The girls and Tutberidze’s reactions to their wins and losses led many viewers to question Tutberidze’s training methods and harsh treatment. A trend within many of her previous students has included taking an early retirement ridden with many injuries and eating disorders. While her methods have seemingly produced top-class skaters, much of the public have begun wanting to see Tutberidze held accountable.