Daughter of Kamila Valieva’s controversial coach dodges media questions at Beijing Olympics Christine BrennanUSA TODAY
BEIJING – The Kamila Valieva controversy is taking its toll on the patience of Russian skaters.
The ice dancing partner of the daughter of Valieva’s controversial coach tried to shut down questions about the Olympic doping scandal four times in a 1 ½ minute interview with journalists Saturday night – after ending an interview with the wire services a few minutes earlier.
ROC skater Gleb Smolkin did his best to shield his 19-year-old partner Diana Davis, the Detroit-based daughter of Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze, from any scrutiny in the wake of Valieva’s positive drug test.
Here’s how it went:
Reporter: “Diana, how difficult has it been to skate knowing about the doping violation of your mother’s student?
Davis stood by silently as Smolkin, his arm wrapped tightly around Davis, took on the media.
Smolkin: “I’ve said it already three times, we don’t want to talk about it. I’ve already said that we wish Kamila all the best, she’s a great athlete, she’s a great skater and she definitely has a bright future. It doesn’t matter what happened or what’s going to happen.”
Reporter: “Even if she doped, it’s okay?”
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Smolkin: “I have no idea what’s going on. All right, we’re done.”
Reporter: “Could Diana talk about it?”
Reporter: “Can she speak?”
Smolkin: “She can but not with you and not on these questions. We’re done.”
Reporter: “Can she speak about anything? How are you feeling?”
He leaned over to her and spoke in Russian.
Smolkin: “She feels good, she feels good.”
Reporter: “Doesn’t she speak English? She’s an American.”
Smolkin: “A little bit, but not much.”
Reporter: “You don’t speak English?”
Smolkin: “She left America when she was three years old.”
Davis was born in Las Vegas and trains in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Michigan.
Reporter: “So literally no English?”
Smolkin: “A little bit but not for interview.”
Reporter: “So she can’t say one word?”
He leaned over and spoke to her again in Russian.
Davis: “I’m happy.”
Reporter: “You’re happy?”
Smolkin: “Are you happy?”
Reporter: “I’m thrilled, loving the interview.”
Smolkin: “Great. Next question.”
Reporter: “Has any of this damaged the Olympics for you, has this ruined the experience for you?”
Smolkin: “I don’t really know a lot of words in this sentence.”
Reporter: “Has the whole thing about Kamila, has it damaged the Olympics for you?”
Smolkin: “No more questions about Kamila.”
With a previous group of journalists in the mixed zone, Smolkin was just as abrupt: “You better change your questions or we’ll be done.”
The Russian ice dance couple finished 14th in the rhythm dance portion of the competition, which ends Monday, one day before the women’s short program will begin.
It’s uncertain if Valieva, the gold medal favorite, will be able to compete; her fate will be determined by a Sunday evening hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.