Tearful Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva said she was “tired emotionally” after days of scandal over her failed doping test, as the teenager prepares to compete in the women’s singles event at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday.
Valieva was favourite for gold going into the Beijing Games, but a week into them it emerged she had tested positive in December for the banned substance trimetazidine, which boosts endurance.
“These last few days have been very difficult for me,” the 15-year-old told Russian television on Monday night.
Earlier that day, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that she could carry on competing in Beijing despite the positive test. But if she wins a singles medal, the International Olympic Committee says there will be no medal ceremony.
“I am happy but at the same time tired emotionally,” Valieva said.
Starting to cry, she added: “These are tears of happiness, but also it seems sadness.
“At the same time, I’m of course happy to be at the Olympics and to try and represent my country. I hope I will do my best.”
She said the belief in her from fans had been “very important”.
“When I open Instagram, I see loads of messages of kindness and faith. I’ve even seen signs in Moscow saying ‘Kamila, we are with you!’ It’s really nice.”
She also said her entourage, who are under scrutiny for any potential role they might have played in the controversy, were supporting her.
“I thought I would be alone,” she said. “But the people closest to me will never let me down.”
The women’s single figure skating short programme will begin at 6:00pm Beijing time (1000 GMT).
The free programme, after which there will be an overall winner, is on Thursday.