United States

US To Receive Gold Medals After Russian Figure Skater Valieva's Doping Disqualification At 2022 Winter Olympics

The U.S. Olympic figure skating team is set to receive gold medals following the disqualification of Russian skater Kamila Valieva due to doping at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Courtesy: Sue Ogrocki via AP
US To Receive Gold Medals After Russian Figure Skater Valieva's Doping Disqualification Photo: Courtesy: Sue Ogrocki via AP
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The U.S. Olympic figure skating team received the news on Monday night that they are being awarded gold medals following the disqualification of Russian skater Kamila Valieva due to doping at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee was informed by the IOC that they would be receiving the gold medal for the team competition. This decision came as a result of the turmoil caused by Valieva's positive test from six weeks before the competition was revealed.

The Associated Press has acquired an email sent by the IOC to the USOPC, saying it “is now in position to award the medals in accordance with the ranking, which has to be established by the International Skating Union," the federation responsible for overseeing the event at the Olympics.

The USOPC verified that CEO Sarah Hirshland had indeed been informed of the Americans being declared as the winners.

The IOC expressed it had “great sympathy with the athletes who have had to wait for two years to get the final results of their competition. The IOC will contact the respective (national Olympic committees) in order to organize a dignified Olympic medal ceremony.”

Valieva at the US Figure Skating Championships
Valieva at the US Figure Skating Championships Photo: Courtesy: David J. Phillip via AP
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There is still uncertainty regarding the impact of Valieva's disqualification on the allocation of silver and bronze medals. Japan, which initially finished third, is expected to move into second place. Depending on the interpretation of a scoring rule, Russia might still secure third place, surpassing Canada, even after deducting Valieva's points from the two events she participated in during the team event.

The gold medals will be awarded to the following American athletes: Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim, and Vincent Zhou.

It has been a lengthy two-year journey for everyone involved. Last summer, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum commemorated the 500-day countdown to the Olympics by displaying the empty boxes initially meant to contain the medals that were not awarded in Beijing.

Over the weekend, Chock and Bates secured their fifth U.S. title and were asked about the impending decision.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates at the U.S. figure skating championships
Madison Chock and Evan Bates at the U.S. figure skating championships Photo: Courtesy: Sue Ogrocki via AP
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“I think two years is too long for this decision to be made, and we may never know why it has taken this long,” Bates said. “We’re just looking forward to getting some closure after a long waiting period.”

There is currently no information available regarding the location of a potential medal ceremony. The USOPC stated that it is in the process of identifying an appropriate time and place to award the gold medals to its skaters. Skating’s world championships are scheduled to be held in Montreal in March.

Valieva will not receive any medals. The Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision earlier in the day imposed a four-year ban on the Russian athlete, retroactively starting from December 25, 2021 – the date of her positive drug test. This sanction nullifies Valieva's results after that date and will end approximately two months before the next Winter Games in Italy.

Russian authorities criticized the ruling. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated, “Of course, we don’t agree with this. From my point of view, of course, it’s politicized.”

The IOC opted not to hold a medals ceremony in Beijing, where Valieva, then 15 years old, had been the star performer just hours before her positive test for a banned heart medication was disclosed.

Valieva at the US Figure Skating Championships
Valieva at the US Figure Skating Championships Photo: Courtesy: Natacha Pisarenko via AP
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This case resulted in legal complications, in part because her sample had been collected six weeks prior at the Russian championships but was not reported as a positive test until February 7, 2022.

Multiple appeals and hearings have taken place and continued for nearly two years since the Olympics. A Russian sports tribunal had cleared Valieva of any wrongdoing due to her status as a minor. However, the CAS upheld appeals led by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which sought her disqualification from the Olympics and a ban.

The judges ruled that, according to Russian anti-doping regulations, Valieva could not receive leniency for being a minor at the time of the positive test.

There was “no basis under the rules to treat them any differently from an adult athlete,” said the court, which did not release its detailed verdict, pending a review of confidentiality concerns.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the international skating federation prohibited Russians from participating in international competitions. Valieva, who will turn 18 in April, has continued to compete on an expanded Russian national circuit and in televised events and ice shows. However, she has been defeated twice by younger Russians from the training group supervised by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze.

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