US Figure Skating blasts delay in awarding of Beijing medals
U.S. Figure Skating has largely taken the high road when it comes to allegations of Russian doping at last year’s Beijing Olympics, which have left its team without any sort of medal after finishing second nearly a year ago.
In a strongly worded repudiation of the investigative process, which has dragged on from the moment a positive test for Russian skater Kamila Valieva rocked the Winter Games, the national governing called for “a fair and appropriate ruling to rightfully award medals to all clean sport athletes affected by this situation.”
The U.S. finished second to the Russians in Beijing, yet has received neither the silver medal it won in competition nor the gold medal that it would be awarded if Valieva and her teammates were stripped of their title.
“U.S. Figure Skating and its athletes are deeply frustrated by the lack of a final decision in the team event,” it said Thursday. “We’re very proud of how our Olympic medalists have carried themselves with poise and dignity since earning medals in Beijing. They have long deserved the recognition that has been withheld due to the ongoing process.”
Valieva had just helped the Russians win team gold during the first week of the Olympics when it was announced that a sample she had given two months prior had tested positive for a banned substance. The lag time in reporting it was due to the laboratory that tested the sample having been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport granted an emergency ruling so that Valieva could continue to compete in the women’s competition. Under intense scrutiny, the heavily favored Valieva fell several times during her free skate and failed to medal.
CAS did not rule on the entirety of the case, though, referring it to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Only after months of waiting, and increasing pressure from the World Anti-Doping Agency and other anti-doping bodies, did RUSADA say it had finished its investigation but would not publish a verdict because Valieva was 15 at the time she tested positive.
Meanwhile, a Russian tribunal announced that Valieva bore “no fault or negligence” in her doping case.
While the laborious process was playing out, WADA announced in November it was referring the case to CAS because of questions over RUSADA’s handling of it. In a statement, CAS said that WADA was seeking “the athlete be sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility starting on the date on which the CAS award enters into force.”
Along with preventing Valieva from competing at the next Olympics in Italy, WADA asked that she be disqualified from all competitions since December 2021, when she gave the sample that tested positive for a banned substance.
That would strip the Russian figure skaters of their team gold from the Beijing Games. The Americans would have their silver medal elevated to gold, Japan would move to silver and the Canadian team would be given bronze.
Russian athletes, along with those from Belarus, have been barred from international competition this season because of the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. Valieva and her teammates have been competing only in domestic events.
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