Olympic figure skaters outraged after doping scandal and women's final

Beijing, China - Olympic figure skating legends expressed their frustration in droves after the women's figure skating final at the Beijing Games on Thursday, which was clouded by a "heartbreaking" doping scandal.

After Kamila Valieva finished fourth with a disappointing final Olympic skate on Thursday (r.) following her positive drug test, Olympian commentators (from l to r.) Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski, and Katarina Witt spoke out.
After Kamila Valieva finished fourth with a disappointing final Olympic skate on Thursday (r.) following her positive drug test, Olympian commentators (from l to r.) Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski, and Katarina Witt spoke out.  © Collage: IMAGO/UPI Photo, Future Image, & AFLOSPORT

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was permitted to compete in the women's individual competition in Beijing after a provisional doping suspension was lifted, but finished fourth after falling multiple times and crumbling under the immense pressure.

Despite failing a drug test taken in December, she led after this week's first round of short program competition, but delivered an error-strewn and tear-stained free skate to end her Olympic journey.

Two-time Olympic and multiple-time world figure skating champion Katarina Witt struggled to keep her emotions in check Thursday as she criticized the treatment of Valieva at the Games.

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"What has happened now is the very worst," Witt said as a commentator on the German Olympic broadcast, previously calling the situation "inhumane." "She fell apart because of it."

Witt was fighting off tears herself and at one point asked her crew to cut the camera away from her.

"This is actually unbearable," she said. "She's a 15-year-old kid and she's broken from it. She's really been thrown to the wolves now ... She couldn't win in this whole game."

Witt later regained her composure and apologized for her "outburst," but she certainly wasn't the only commentator and skater who felt the same way.

Former US Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, who helmed the NBC broadcast commentary along with Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, also both slammed the event and Valieva's participation.

"That was the most bizarre and heartbreaking event I've seen in my entire life. And I hope that it's never repeated," Weir said in a video posted to his social media after the women's free skate. Lipinski also made multiple tweets earlier in the week calling for accountability.

"I believe this will leave a permanent scar on our sport," she said.

2018 Olympic figure skating medalist Adam Rippon, who coached American skater Mariah Bell this week in Beijing, was much more blunt following the final.

"What a s**t show omg," he tweeted.

Their voices only added to more Olympic figure skaters – like Scott Hamilton, Yuna Kim, Ashley Wagner, and Mirai Nagasu and US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who joined the chorus earlier this week expressing outrage over the Russian athlete being cleared to compete.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/UPI Photo, Future Image, & AFLOSPORT

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