“There is no doping for figure skaters. Hypothetically, sabotage is possible. I have provided the Federal Drug Control Service set of facts that may determine the motive and possible malicious intent.” doctor Shvetsky about Valieva’s doping scandal
Interview with national team doctor Filipp Shvetsky. About doping scandal with Valieva.
source: lgz.ru dd. 29th June 2022 by Oleg Pyhnavtsev
How free are you today in your assessments and statements?
Filipp Shvetsky: I am limited only by my personal code of ethics, legal norms and common sense. But I will be frank with you. After unsubstantiated accusations against me, after threats to me and my family, after shameful anonymous letters to my place of work, I simply have to explain myself. I will try to express my humble opinion about the events that shocked our country, and indeed the whole world, during the Olympics.
Did Valieva take doping?
Filipp Shvetsky: Absolutely not, in the story with Valieva, doping is out of the question. She did not take drugs that could artificially improve her athletic performance.
In general, the concept of “doping”, due to many speculations, scandals, inflated by the press, has come into use and, apparently, has lost its true meaning for the general public. In the public mind, the image of a bodybuilder immediately appears, who destroys his health by increasing muscle mass. But figure skating is not bodybuilding. The use of the concept of “doping” in relation to figure skaters is incorrect, there is no doping for figure skaters. And even if one existed, under the current system of control, its use is nonsense. To give an athlete doping, knowing that a doping control is ahead, is called a suicidal attempt in psychiatry. A doctor, a coach and an athlete must be mentally abnormal to decide on this … Fortunately, we have certificates, I even have two: I work in a hospital and with children at the rink, and therefore I regularly check with a narcologist and a psychiatrist. Therefore, the most important proof for society and the prosecutor is that I have a certificate from these specialists.
The only “doping” that I gave Kamila as a gift was a copy of Picasso’s painting “Girl on a Ball”. It was painted by an artist friend of mine. I recognize this “doping” officially, I hope it helped her.
What is the basis of your assertion that it is pointless to use doping in figure skating?
Filipp Shvetsky: Let’s try to think logically. Doping is a technique that allows you to artificially improve the qualities necessary to achieve a result – strength, speed, endurance, coordination. What can serve as doping in modern conditions of total control? Let’s put ourselves in the place of the violator. So, first you need to invent a drug that competitors cannot invent. Secondly, you need to test it on a large number of subjects and develop a scheme for a particular sport. Thirdly, you need to figure out how to hide the use of this drug. In fact, a task for a large research institute with hundreds of employees, biochemical laboratories and an unlimited budget. Such a task is comparable to the development of a cure for a rare disease. Moreover, the result of the activities of hundreds or even thousands of specialists is not at all guaranteed.
And in relation to figure skating, the task becomes more complicated multiple times. After all, a drug that increases strength leads to a loss of coordination, and one that increases speed leads to a loss of strength, and one that increases coordination leads to a loss of endurance … I think doping for figure skating is, in principle, an insoluble medical, pharmacological task.
Can you explain in a simple way what trimetazidine is and how it got into Valieva’s body?
Filipp Shvetsky: Trimetazidine is one of the drugs banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. In medicine, it is prescribed to elderly patients with ischemia to protect cardiomyocytes – the muscle cells of the heart. It is taken in combination with other drugs only by cardiologist prescription.
There are no medical or any other reasons to prescribe this drug to Valieva. This – I repeat – would be a manifestation of insanity. In the doping test, the concentration of this drug is so low that there is no doubt: this is not a systemic, but a single accidental hit, perhaps some kind of incident of an unknown nature, but definitely a minimum dose. Otherwise, in the doping tests before and after, there would also be a “trace” of trimetazidine.
How could it get into Valieva’s body?
Filipp Shvetsky: Our version, which we presented to CAS during the Olympics, is from someone from the inner circle who could take a complex that included trimetazidine. It is clear to any expert that in the case of Valieva, one can only talk about a single accidental case. I am grateful to the headquarters of the Center for Sports Medicine of the FMBA of Russia and the Olympic Committee of the Russian Federation at the Olympic Games for their help in substantiating this version.
How could this physically happen? Drank water from the same glass with a relative? Through a kiss, a handshake?
Filipp Shvetsky: If we knew the mechanism, our positions in court would be much stronger. But, unfortunately, we do not know this. And in this case, it is not even the mechanism that is important, but strong argument – this is not a systematic use.
In the media and social networks, a version was discussed that trimetazidine could get along with some kind of dietary supplement, an amino acid complex. How likely is this?
Filipp Shvetsky: I would exclude this version. We have all dietary supplements checked, and we should not exaggerate their role. In figure skating, their use is very limited due to the nature of the sport, the age of the athletes, the need to maintain weight. The elements necessary for figure skaters are in food. The athlete must receive a sufficient amount of water, replenish electrolytes, amino acids that are lost due to exercise. All this is contained in harmless bioadditives. Skaters usually use high quality amino acid complexes rather than buying them from a market somewhere.
We are often told that the WADA system itself is flawed, that the principle by which the list of prohibited drugs is formed is doubtful …
Filipp Shvetsky: If we agree to someone else’s rules of the game, then we need to follow them. Although many of WADA’s decisions regarding the banned list seem dubious to me as well. For example, the use of xenon is prohibited. Our scientists learned how to use this inert gas as an anesthetic as early as 1962. Xenon is also the subject of my Phd thesis. In addition to the figure skating team, I work as a resuscitator at the Hospital for War Veterans No. 2 and successfully apply our achievements there. For example, we used xenon in the treatment of covid infection. Our techniques allow us to achieve a noticeable cardioprotective effect, reduce anxiety, and I also found an important area of xenon application – improving the quality of life in chronic fatigue syndrome, which is often accompanied by back pain. It could also be used in sports medicine, but WADA prohibits it. Why – it is not clear, it is contained in the air that we breathe, apparently, only in Russia.
In relation to the situation with Valieva, was the version of sabotage considered? After all, the political anti-Russian background of the doping scandals is obvious. Well, and fierce competition could theoretically also become a motive – there are many stories of this kind in history …
Filipp Shvetsky: To go to CAS with this version, you need to have an evidence base – a video, for example, in which a certain villain pours something forbidden into Kamila’s drink. And without evidence, it is useless to offer a version of sabotage – they simply will not consider it well-founded and will disqualify without further ado.
That is, in your opinion, sabotage is excluded?
Filipp Shvetsky: Hypothetically, sabotage is possible. Because of covid, the athletes were in quarantine for a long time, in a specially organized “bubble” – both at the training camp, and at training, and at competitions. Someone from outside could not penetrate “behind the scenes”. To carry out sabotage, add or mix something it really possible only in the locker room, toilet – there is no video surveillance. There was no such a “bubble” only during the Russian Nationals in St. Petersburg. And a doping test from exactly from this competition turned out to be positive. I emphasize that I am not stating anything, just trying to analyze.
Perhaps it would be logical for the intelligence agencies to investigate this story? After all, there are plenty of questions and versions …
Filipp Shvetsky: Recently, I was called to the Federal Drug Control Service, and it took me four hours to tell in detail what and how happened before, during and after the competitions. I hope the Federal Drug Control Service will figure it out, will be able to open this “Chinese box”. I have provided a set of circumstantial facts that may determine the motive and possible malicious intent. And I also wrote a letter to the Investigative Committee, set out the facts in detail, gave an assessment of the publications in the media which related to the doping scandal.
When the story with Valieva happened, one of the German TV channels showed a movie – in fact, another anti-Russian propaganda. You and Eteri Tutberidze became the main target. The Germans hinted that Dr. Shvetsky had been involved in doping scandals in the past. Can you briefly explain what was it about?
Filipp Shvetsky: In 2006, the Russian rowing team, where I worked, was disqualified for two years – coaches, athletes, staff. Violation: allowed drug was taken in a not allowed way – intravenously. I won’t go into details, but using the events of 2006 as an argument against me is simply absurd. Moreover, this case has already been considered retrospectively in the Presnensky Court of Moscow, where I fully defended my honest name and reputation. So to use this old story as compromising evidence means to show incompetence. I’m not even talking about the moral side and professional standards of journalism. But it’s not even sad that the Germans mislead, manipulate – this is their style, they solve their political issues in this way, intending to slander our country. It is sad that some Russian media have gone the same way, trying to increase the audience with “hot facts”. Even some of the representatives of the legislature made comments, they say, by what right do I work with athletes of the Russian national teams?
Much of what is happening in the media and social networks surprised me with arrogance and amateurism. Unfortunately, some of our journalists are focused only on cheap fame, ratings and do not even think to understand the essence. In relation to me, the statements in the media were completely unfair and offensive. But, unfortunately, such publications form public opinion.
Unsubstantiated accusations rained down on me, threats to crack down on me and my family, someone sent an anonymous letter to the hospital where I work, demanded my dismissal … Real haunt began – curses were poured in Russian social networks, German propaganda movie was played for days on the central European channel…
The Germans in their “movie” presented Eteri Tutberidze as a despot. This topic often arises in the discussion of the methods of Eteri Georgievna and in the Russian media. Do you have something to answer?
Filipp Shvetsky: There are two absolutely groundless myths: that such impressive results in women’s figure skating are achieved with the help of doping and the second – that the result is ensured by the coach’s despotism. But, of course, the reason for success lies elsewhere – in the talent, the character of the athlete, the enormous work through pain and fatigue. It’s just that Eteri Tutberidze knows how to motivate to train to the limit. Unfortunately, this answer does not suit many. Even in the professional community, among athletes, some people are trying to find other explanations for other people’s records. To a certain extent it’s jealousy and envy. In such cases, I propose to work, as they do in the Tutberidze group, to learn how to leave the comfort zone and endure. And when you can’t endure, you start to justify yourself and suspect others … But for such hard workers as, for example, our legendary skier Bolshunov, you don’t need to explain the secret of success. After all, he was even upset that at the Olympics he had to run a distance not of 50 km, but only 30 …
Tell us how Valieva was going through this difficult, dramatic situation?
Filipp Shvetsky: Kamila, of course, is a child by age, but for athletes, I think a year goes like a year and a half. Just like for us, doctors working in intensive care.
In some matters, they have a childish perception of life, but sports teach you to quickly adapt to difficult life circumstances, in sports you grow up faster …
At first, she didn’t even show that there was a reason to be worried. She reacted with dignity, waiting for the situation to be resolved. But then it turned out that because of her doping test, the whole team was under threat. And she took such a turn very emotionally – she burst into tears, for a long time she could not calm down. This is an indicator that she is not just a well-educated girl, but a person. For her, it became trauma, stress, that she let the team down, that her teammates would suffer …
Most likely, you have to play the role of not only a doctor, but also a psychologist … Do you think that Valieva was able to cope with stress, has she already returned to normal? Can we say that psychological problems are in the past?
Filipp Shvetsky: In any team, a doctor and a massage therapist sometimes provide not even psychological, but psychiatric assistance, because psychology has an indirect relation to the sport of the highest achievements, its role should not be exaggerated. Coaches mostly see athletes in training, and they come to us to cry. In this sense, we have a tandem with a massage therapist. They come to complain about some troubles in life, and about unhappy love …
As for Kamila, I think she is fine now. In any case, at the Channel One Cup she performed at her usual highest level.
Valieva proved that she is a strong personality. In general, it seems to me that the problems that Kamila had and, I hope, will not arise again, are due to the fact that she is ashamed of her perfection. I think you can’t do that in sports and in art. On the stage, on the ice, on the basketball court, in the ring, such an attitude towards yourself will only hinder, you must be able to enjoy what you are doing. In everyday life, please – you can be modest, modesty is a good trait.
To enjoy your work as a team doctor is not so easy, apparently. Anyway, judging by your story…
Filipp Shvetsky: Despite everything, I am grateful to fate that I was lucky to work in such a cosmic team – athletes, coaches, colleagues in the Russian national team. We managed to confidently overcome difficulties during the pandemic and perform well at the Olympic Games. Despite the provocations and unsportsmanlike methods of our competitors. We were able to prove that we are the best team in the world, a real dream team.
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