Ekaterina Bobrova: “Tutberidze can humiliate an athlete, but the girls come back to her because they don’t know how to train differently.”
Interview with Ekaterina Bobrova. About her doping scandal, friendship with Evgenia Medvedeva and methods of work in Eteri Tutberidze’s group.
source: sobesednik.ru dd. 28th March by Lolita Purceladze
Not for the first Olympics we have doping-related scandals. How did survive this?
Ekaterina Bobrova: Not only Russia has problems with doping, they just provide media coverage in such a way. And the ridiculous thing is that sometimes it’s not even about the drugs. WADA has a control system: athletes who are in the so-called pool must report in the database about thier every movements throughout the year, 24 hours a day.
If something happened to the system – you forgot, didn’t fill out your report for some reason, and they came to check you for doping and you were not found in the right place – they give you a red flag. Three flags – four years disqualification. You may not even use doping, many of our athletes were punished for this.
Every year, the list of prohibited drugs for athletes is changed. In 2016, we were told that Meldonium, which is part of the Mildronate, was included in the list of “prohibited” items. Then almost all our athletes had it.
It seems to me that the international association has monitored that Russians are taking this “Mildronate” and for some reason they are winning, so they decided to focus on it. We joked that soon they will forbid buckwheat.
Since January 1, 2016, this drug has been banned, it takes two months for it to be out of your system. We stopped taking it as soon as we learned about it. This drug helps the heart muscle. I put it aside, forgot about it, together with Dmitri Soloviev we won bronze medal at the European Championships. After some time, I got a call from the Federation and they said that I was caught on doping. At the first second, I thought it was a joke, I thought it was a mistake – after all, I was one hundred percent confident in myself. When everything become serious, I had thoughts that something had been mixed into my analyzes. I was sure that we would figure it out, so I calmly continued to prepare for the Worlds. As a result, they found out that much was unknown about this drug, its excretion from the body depends on many factors, even weight.
I was acquitted, because at the time of sampling, the concentration of the drug was very small. Unfortunately, due to a long trial, we missed the Worlds and lost a huge number of points in the world ranking.
We were very upset, to be honest, before I was acquitted, I was already thinking about giving up. At that moment it felt like I got punched in the stomach with all strength.
I was afraid to get depressed, because I could be disqualified for four years, and then I could forget about figure skating.
I started doing completely different things just not to think about it – acting, shooting in different programs, learning something new – and let go of figure skating.
When we were acquitted, Dima called me to practice, I refused. My boys (partner Dmitri Soloviev and coach Alexander Zhulin – ed.) knew how to persuade me and convinced me to come to just one training. Dima offered excellent music, we started working on the program, and then my eyes started to burn, I began to offer a bunch of ideas, new lifts, transitions – the coach also supported. That’s how we entered the new season and skated our third Olympics.
Skaters have a short career, what to do after? How do you earn for life?
Ekaterina Bobrova: I am very lucky in my life. I have a wonderful husband, this year it will be eight years since we have been together, and five years of official marriage. We have a great son who will be two years old in April. I skate in various shows of Ilia Averbukh, I had a wonderful experience in Tatiana Novka’s show. Shows are my main income.
I cannot name the numbers, but it’s enough for life. For example, when we were eager to get to the “Ice Age” because of interest, colleagues who have already participated, whispered: “This is also a way to make very good money.”
We are also planning to open a figure skating school “Champions School of Ekaterina Bobrova”, together with the “School of Champions” chain. I will be the head coach and my husband will help me. Andrei Deputat is also a former figure skater, he has more experience in coaching than me. Besides us, the team will have an amazing coaching staff. I also give master classes. Various people ask me, we gather a company, rent a skating rink and I show them various elements, teach them how to skate, at the end we have various games – for fun, as they say. I am invited with master classes to different cities. Also, successful skaters after the end of their careers have a lot of offers for advertising contracts, including Instagram ads.
Twice you were given cars for your victories, why didn’t you leave one for yourself?
Ekaterina Bobrova: Yes indeed. For the first time, in 2014, I did not expect such a gift at all, when I got a Mercedes of a luxury class, I just did not understand why I needed such a car.
My family was not wealthy, and I sometimes wondered where my mother managed to find money to sew me a new expensive costume or take me out to sea in the summer. But for her it was extremely important, because I was working hard for almost a whole year without days off.
When I started to earn money, my mother give me the opportunity to spend this money myself, this taught me to value them. To this day, I am not a spender, I do not save up, but there is always money for a “rainy day”. At that moment I sold the Mercedes, updated cars for me and mother, and donated the rest of the money to charity. Can you imagine what an expensive car it was? In 2018, I did the same with the presented BMW.
Many people consider your friendship with Medvedeva as PR, what do you think about this?
Ekaterina Bobrova: I met Zhenya at the training camp back in the days when she was just a junior, she was 16 years old. Despite the big difference in age – nine years – we had fun together, we became very close, and we always asked to settle us together at competitions. I was incredibly happy about her every success, I remember her laughing that she was catching up with me in medals. Just recently she has visiting me, we will also celebrate my birthday together. In one interview I was asked about Zhenya, I answered honestly, from the bottom of my heart. After that I was “hated” on the Web, they were saying that with such friends enemies are not needed. I did not understand what I said wrong, I was very worried. And then Zhenya called me and thanked me for my words about her in an interview – I was so relieved. The most offensive thing is that it was Zhenya’s fans who wrote nasty things to me.
Evgenia is Tutberidze’s student. Her tough coaching methods are constantly discuss. What is it about?
Ekaterina Bobrova: Eteri Georgievna may have a sharp tongue, some of the parents may not like what their child hears during training. She can humiliate an athlete, but she does it, in her opinion, for the good.
Tutberidze churns out champions one by one, her system, whatever it is, works. And the girls come back to her because they don’t know how to train differently.
Discussing the manner of Eteri Georgievna’s coaching, everyone forgets Stanislav Zhuk, who also gave champions, but such a things were going on his ice – it was better to bypass his training for kilometers far. This is the specificity of our mentality – only we have this. In America, if you touch an athlete’s leg in a wrong way, you can be jailed. I was also beaten as a child, I was scared to come to trainings. It helped me achieve what I have achieved. Whatever methods Tutberidze has, whether you like it or not, the main thing is that they work.
Since athletes cannot earn for a long time in their field, are there any payments to outstanding sportsmen?
Ekaterina Bobrova: Olympic champions, those who took gold at the Olympics, are paid a monthly salary, including me. Once it was an amount of 15 thousand rubles a month (200 USD), now 52 thousand rubles (680 USD) are regularly paid every month.