Mirai Nagasu Has ‘Empathy’ for Kamila Valieva

  • Olympic figure skater Mirai Nagasu has “empathy” for Kamila Valieva but advocates for a clean sport.
  • “I hope that we continue to make sure we’re holding our athletes accountable,” Nagasu told Insider.
  • Nagasu, who retired from skating, most recently competed on “Celebrity Big Brother.”

American figure skater and “Celebrity Big Brother” season three contestant Mirai Nagasu feels for Russia’s 15-year-old star skater Kamila Valieva amid Valieva’s doping scandal but firmly believes all Olympic athletes should be held “accountable.”

Nagasu was the 2018 Winter Olympics team event bronze medalist who made history when she became the first American woman to successfully land a triple axel at that event. She recently spoke to Insider after being unanimously voted out of the “Celebrity Big Brother” house in Monday’s live vote and eviction.

The retired skater, whose first tweet after her “Big Brother” elimination was about how excited she was to catch up with the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, reacted to the scandal diplomatically.

“I have a lot of empathy for a 15-year-old testing positive,” Nagasu told Insider on Thursday when asked about her thoughts on the then-unconfirmed reports. “But I advocate for a clean sport.”

She continued: “I hope that we continue to make sure we’re holding our athletes accountable and we’re all competing on equal ground and footing.”

Kamila Valieva at 2022 Olympics

Kamila Valieva of Team ROC during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Valieva made history on Monday when she landed a quadruple jump (and then a second one) during the free-skate event at the Beijing Olympics, making her the first woman to successfully land that move at the Olympics. Her performance helped Russia win the gold medal in the team figure-skating competition, with the United States taking silver and Japan taking bronze.

But two days later, on Wednesday, multiple reports emerged that a member of the Russian Olympic Committee’s figure-skating team had tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine, a metabolic agent that helps prevent angina attacks, with sources saying that Valieva may have been the athlete who failed the drug test.

On Thursday night, the International Testing Authority (ITA) confirmed in a statement that Valieva, who is a minor, had tested positive for a banned substance in December 2021, Insider previously reported. While the Russian Anti-Doping Agency cleared Valieva for Olympic competition despite testing positive, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appealed that decision, according to the same statement.

As of writing, Valieva remains free to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, though that could change if the IOC’s appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport is successful. Russia’s Olympic Committee said on Friday that it’s vowing to stand by Valieva, who is next set to compete in the individual figure-skating competition on February 15, and defended its figure-skating team’s “honestly won” gold medal.

While Nagasu didn’t go into further detail on Valieva’s reported scandal, which hadn’t been confirmed at the time Insider spoke to Nagasu on Thursday, she did effusively praise her fellow American figure skater, Nathan Chen, who won gold in the men’s figure-skating event in Beijing on Thursday.

Bronze medalists Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu and Bradie Tennell of Team United States celebrate during the medal ceremony after the Figure Skating Team Event at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Left to right: Bronze medalists Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, and Bradie Tennell of Team United States celebrate during the medal ceremony after the figure-skating event at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The 22-year-old Chen, who holds multiple world records in skating, was Nagasu’s teammate at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and has been dubbed the “Quad King” for his ability to land quadruple jumps.

“For Nathan to be able to put two strong performances together back-to-back and also be a formidable player in the team event — he really deserves his Olympic gold medal,” Nagasu told Insider on Thursday.

“I am so incredibly proud of Nathan, and I’m excited to be a part of a generation that continues to represent for the Asian American community,” she added.

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