Putin honors skating coach in Valieva Olympic doping case

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze one of the country's highest honors Monday, nearly a year after a doping case involving one of her top skaters overshadowed the Winter Olympics.

A presidential decree dated Jan. 26 but published Monday lists Tutberidze, 48, among three people awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky "for ensuring the successful training of athletes who achieved high sporting accomplishments" at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022.

Tutberidze has coached a series of leading skaters, including 2018 Olympic champion Alina Zagitova and 2022 gold medalist Anna Shcherbakova. However, she has faced scrutiny over the relatively short careers of her teenage skaters and a high rate of injuries.

Tutberidze-trained skater Kamila Valieva was a favorite for the gold medal ahead of the Beijing Olympics, and helped the Russian team win gold in the team event before a doping test taken before the Games came back positive. She was allowed to skate in the women's competition on appeal and placed fourth.

As the then-15-year-old left the ice, Tutberidze questioned her, asking why she had "let it go." International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach later said he was "disturbed" by what he saw.

A Russian disciplinary panel declined to impose a ban, and the World Anti-Doping Agency said last month it was considering appealing Valieva's case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The uncertainty over the results means no medal ceremony has yet been held for the Olympic team event one year on.

The decree published Monday also listed honors for Tutberidze's assistant, Sergei Dudakov, and choreographer Daniil Gleikhengauz, as well as for former NHL star Pavel Bure, who is a Russian Hockey Federation official.