U.S. Olympic figure skaters learned late Monday that Russian skater Kamila Valieva will win the gold medal Disqualified from 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for doping.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee received word that the IOC would award the team gold medal to the U.S. team, which was thrown into disarray after Valieva tested positive six weeks before the competition.
The AP obtained a copy of an email from the IOC to the U.S. Olympic Committee that said “medals can now be awarded based on rankings, which must be established by the International Skating Union.” Host the event at the Olympics.
USOPC confirmed chief executive Sarah Hirshland had received news that the American had been declared the winner.
The IOC said it “extremely sympathizes with the athletes who have waited two years for final results. The IOC will contact the relevant National Olympic Committees to organize a dignified Olympic medal ceremony.”
Still uncertain is how Valieva’s disqualification will affect the silver and bronze medals. Japan finished third and will likely move up to second place. According to the interpretation of the scoring rules, even if Valiyeva’s points were deducted, Russia would still likely finish third – ahead of Canada. She competed in two games in the team competition.
The American athletes who won gold medals were Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim and Vincent Zhou.
It’s been a long two years for everyone involved. Last summer, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum marked the 500-day milestone since the Olympics by displaying empty boxes that skaters received that were supposed to contain medals that had not been awarded by Beijing.
Over the weekend, Jock and Bates won their fifth U.S. title and were asked about the pending decision.
“I think two years is too long to make this decision and we may never know why it took so long,” Bates said. “We’re just looking forward to getting some results after a long waiting period.”
There is no word yet on where the awards ceremony might take place. The U.S. Olympic Committee said it is starting to look for the right time and place to award gold medals to skaters. The Skating World Championships will be held in Montreal in March.
Valieva would ultimately leave empty-handed. Earlier in the day, the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided to ban the Russian for four years, backdated to December 25, 2021 (the date of the positive test). The sanction will then cancel Valieva’s results date; it will end around two months before the next Winter Olympics in Italy.
Russian authorities criticized the ruling.
“Of course, we don’t agree with that. From my point of view, of course it’s politicized,” said Kremlin moderate Dmitry Peskov.
The International Olympic Committee decided not to hold a ceremony in Beijing, where 15-year-old Valyeva was the top performer, just hours after it was revealed she had tested positive for a banned heart drug.
The case sparked legal chaos, in part because her sample was taken at the Russian Championships six weeks ago but was not reported as a positive test until February 7, 2022.
Multiple appeals and hearings ensued, ongoing in the nearly two years since the Olympics. Russia’s sports court has cleared Valieva of any responsibility because she is a minor. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld an appeal led by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which asked the court to disqualify Valieva from the Olympics and ban her from competing.
The judges held that under Russian anti-doping rules, Valyeva was underage when she tested positive and could not receive leniency.
“Under the rules, there is no basis to treat them differently from adult athletes,” the court said. The court did not release detailed rulings during a review of confidentiality issues.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, the International Skating Union banned Russians from international competitions. Valyeva, who turns 18 in April, has skated on the expanded Russian national tour, television events and ice shows. But she was defeated twice by young players from Russia. Training group managed by her coach Eteri Tutberidze.