Duncan Mackay and Michael Pavitt of the publication Inside the Games reported, via a series of stories, the biggest scoop of the Winter Olympics: that 15-year-old Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva was in the middle of a doping case.
The news has left Valieva’s status for the rest of the Games in flux. She was already part of the Russian team that won gold in the team figure skating event and was the significant favorite to take the individual competition crown which begins Tuesday.
A hearing in front the Court of Arbitration for Sport expected this weekend will determine whether she is suspended or can continue to compete.
Journalistically, Mackay and Pavitt already own the gold medal of these Olympics. They have been proven correct with each development.
That hasn’t been appreciated in Russia, or even by all Russian sportswriters, though. Both have harassed and even threatened the writers for various reasons.
It was enough that IOC spokesman Mark Adams had to try to restore order like a school teacher in front of classroom full of misbehaving students.
“Everybody needs to take a chill pill,” Adams said.
Mackay and Pavitt were the first to report that the team competition medal ceremony was delayed due to a “legal issue” involving Russia, then that it was a doping case and then that it involved Valieva. They also reported the banned substance involved and other details. They’ve owned the story.
Along the way they have dealt with a relentless amount of online abuse and even death threats.
“You will be positive when you discover some new substances in your tea,” someone told Mackay according to The Guardian newspaper.
A separate British journalist asked Valieva after her practice session Friday if she was a “doper.” Valieva refused to answer but the Brit was reportedly surrounded by Russian media, including one who, according to the Guardian, declared: “Our Russian journalists can tear you to pieces.”
It was enough that when asked about the situation on Saturday, Adams, the IOC spokesman, felt compelled to weigh in on an issue that has caused incredible suspicion and anger among not just athletes, coaches and officials, but apparently reporters as well.
“Understandably, there are all sorts of arguments on all sides but it is not acceptable for that to turn into threats of violence if it indeed did,” Adams said.
“Everybody should remain calm,” he continued. “It is important to respect the Olympic values of respect to each other. Everyone is here to report a story.”
Mackay and Pavitt are just doing it the best.