Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski were uncharacteristically quiet during Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's performance Tuesday morning after the announcers expressed outrage and disappointment that the 15-year-old was allowed to perform amid a doping scandal.
The only time they spoke during the performance was to note Valieva's jumps.
"All I feel like I can say is that was the short program of Kamila Valieva at the Olympics," Weir said at the end of her skate.
"She had a positive test. We should not have seen this skate," Lipinski said after.
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Weir, who called the women's short program the "hardest event that I've ever had to cover," apologized to viewers that the doping scandal was "overshadowing your Olympics," but the duo both expressed frustration and disappointment over the ruling that allowed the teen to continue skating as her future remains in the balance, with Lipinksi contending the decision "will leave a permanent scar on our sport."
Lipisnki said the decision "makes me angry and disoriented by everything that I thought I knew."
"It makes you question everything," she said. "These skaters give up their lives for this moment, to get to this place. Why?"
Weir said before Valieva's performance that he was "uncomfortable" with commentating on it.
"With all of this news I just, I feel so uncomfortable as a skater and as a skating fan even having to commentate on her performance simply because she should not be able to compete in this competition," he said.
Weir added, "If you can't play fair, then you can't play, is my opinion on this. It's heartbreaking for many in the skating world because she is a tremendous talent. But if you don't play by the rules, then you should not be in this competition."
The Russian figure skater, who was cleared a day earlier to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics despite failing a pre-Games drug test, topped the leaderboard at the end of the women's short program, earning a score of 82.16. But the enormous pressure and scrutiny on Valieva appeared to reach a tipping Tuesday, as the teen broke into tears as she skated off the ice at the end of her routine.
As one of the top-24 skaters in a field of 30, Valieva advances to the free skate finals set to take place at 4 a.m. CT Thursday. If Valieva finishes in the top three, there will not be a medal ceremony during the Games. That's because the International Olympic Committee decided it will wait for the investigation of her doping case to play out.
"It's not just about her skating or not skating," Lipinski said. "It's affecting everyone at these Olympic Games to think that there is going to be no medal ceremony in the ladies event if she's on the podium. It's otherworldly to me. I can't even comprehend that. Imagine how that's affecting so many other skaters' lives and their Olympic experiences."
Weir called it a "slap in the face to every other skater in this event."
Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on Dec. 25 at the Russian nationals. It wasn't until after Valieva's dominant performance in the team event that helped the Russian Olympic Committee win gold in Beijing, that the drug test results from a Swedish lab came to light.
That led to the postponment of the medal ceremony for the team event, in which the U.S. won silver and Japan took bronze.
The Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) immediately suspended her, then lifted the ban a day later. The IOC and others appealed, and an expedited hearing was held Sunday night.
Valieva's lawyer Denis Oswald said during the hearing that Valieva failed a doping test because of contamination from medication her grandfather was taking.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Monday after a hearing that Valieva did not need to be provisionally suspended ahead of a full investigation by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency that could take months to resolve. The court cited Valieva's status as a minor or "protected person" and the "serious issues of untimely notification" of her positive test as factors in the favorable ruling.
“The panel considered that preventing the athlete to compete at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in the circumstances,” CAS Director General Matthieu Reeb said.
Valieva landed the first quadruple jump by a woman at the Olympics, a feat that helped catapult the ROC's score to win gold in the teams event. If Valieva and the Russians end up getting disqualified after the doping probe, Team USA would be bumped up to gold, Japan would get silver and fourth-place finisher Canada could move up to bronze. For now, the Americans will leave Beijing unsure if they silver or gold.
“We are devastated that they will leave Beijing without their medals in hand, but we appreciate the intention of the IOC to ensure the right medals are awarded to the right individuals,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
Still, Valieva and her teammates are trying to extend an era of Russian dominance in women's figure skating at the Olympics. All three ROC skaters finished in the top four, with reining world champion Anna Shcherbakova taking second with 80.60 and Aleksandra Trusova finishing fourth with 74.60. Japan's Kaori Sakamoto placed third with 79.89 points.
The Russian women are all coached by Eteri Tutberidze, the former ice dancer-turned-kingmaker who has been criticized for pushing young skaters to extreme limits in the pursuit of Olympic medals. The investigation into Valieva's doping scandal will focus on Tutberidze and the rest of the entourage that has surrounded the young skater in the lead-up to the Olympics.
Weir and Lipinski noted the scandal is a "heartbreaking" place for a 15-year-old to be in.
"You just hope that there's adults around her that will finally step in and help her and guide her," Lipinski said.