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4 Aug, 2022 09:01

Kremlin comments after figure skating coach lashes out

Russia's presidential spokesman backed Eteri Tutberidze following her criticism of the international skating authorities
Kremlin comments after figure skating coach lashes out

Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze is “absolutely right” to condemn the international figure skating authorities for continuing to hand out titles and rankings points while Russian stars are banned, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Tutberidze, who has trained a host of world and Olympic champions, issued a stinging social media rebuke of the International Skating Union (ISU) on Sunday, calling it “absurd” that world championships and various ratings would be determined without the participation of skating powerhouse Russia.

“Of course, it’s easier to share the medals, but where are the basic principles – fair play?” asked Tutberidze, who counts the likes of teenage trio Anna Shcherbakova, Kamila Valieva, and Alexandra Trusova among her current crop of stars.

Presidential spokesman Peskov said he fully agreed with Tutberidze when asked about the topic on Thursday.  

“[Tutberidze] is absolutely right. If we talk about figure skating, our athletes are among the strongest in the world,” said Peskov, according to RIA

“And any rating, wherever it is compiled, any international competition, wherever it is held, cannot be complete without the participation of our athletes. Because the strongest don’t participate.”

That stance was shared by Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin earlier this week, who said the likes of the ISU were continuing a policy of “discrimination” against Russian athletes. 

Like numerous other sporting federations, the ISU has imposed a blanket ban on all Russian and Belarusian skaters because of the conflict in Ukraine, also stripping Russia of the traditional Grand Prix it holds as part of the ISU season.

That means women’s figure skating in particular will be deprived of its best talent as the likes of Olympic champion Shcherbakova, world record points holder Valieva, and ‘Quad Queen’ Trusova are all sidelined from international competition. 

The ISU confirmed its quotas for Russian skaters at the 2023 world championships on Wednesday, reducing the maximum number of competitors from the country to just one skater or pair in each event – should the current ban on Russian participation be lifted.  

Iconic Russian figure skating coach Tatiana Tarasova accused the ISU of trying to bring about “the death of figure skating in Russia,” but added that “there was hardly any chance” of that happening.