Because of a doping scandal involving a Russian figure skater, American figure skaters who finished second in the team figure skating event have been denied the chance to have their medals awarded before the end of the Olympics.
On Feb. 7, Russia won the team figure skating event, led by 15-year-old Kamila Valieva. Team USA came in second.
After the event, a drug test from December surfaced, showing that Valieva had a banned drug in her system at that time. That led to her temporarily being banned from competing in the individual event, a decision which was later reversed and which became moot when she suffered through a fourth-place performance that was not up to the standard she set for herself earlier in the Games.
In the meantime, America’s skaters wanted their medals.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed that appeal, according to KSDK-TV.
“The Panel of arbitrators composed of Mr Lars Hilliger, President, (Denmark), Mr Alain Zahlan de Cayetti (France) and Mr Xianyue Bai (P.R. China), held a hearing by video-conference today from 7pm to 9:30pm (Beijing time). Following the conclusion of the hearing the Panel deliberated and decided to dismiss the Application. Consequently, the decision of the IOC Executive Board of 14 February 2022 not to hold the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 stands,” the decision read.
Although if Russia’s figure skating team is disqualified when the investigation into the doping scandal ends — which could be either months or years away — the American team could get gold medals if Russia ends up being disqualified, the athletes involved were unhappy to leave Beijing without a medal ceremony.
“It’s extremely disheartening to leave the Games empty-handed,” ice dance skater Evan Bates said, according to The Washington Post.
“I think it’s going to take a while to get over this,” Bates said. “And when we do get our medals, I’m not sure that will sufficiently cure the hurt that’s been caused to all the clean athletes who didn’t get their medal moment.”
Others said that the issue of doping needs to be dealt with.
“My hope is that this is not taken as pressure around a medal,” said Zachary Donohue, an ice dancer. “There is going to be a medal at some point; that’s not my concern … There needs to be more decisive action taking against any kind of doping issue and protecting the integrity of the sport.”
“This is an opportunity for this sport to take strides, and it would be a shame if it gets buried under the rug,” Donohue said. “One of the main points [is] to put pressure [on the IOC], like: The world is watching, and we have a chance to stand for something more than just one Games, but for the future of the integrity of the sport.”
In a letter sent to IOC President Thomas Bach, the skaters argued that the IOC’s “own rules mandate that a victory ceremony ‘to present medals to the athletes shall follow the conclusion of each sports event.’”
But their attempt failed.
Due to her age, Valieva is a “protected person” under anti-doping rules and would not be severely penalized. However, her coaches and doctors could face punishment if an inquiry reveals wrongdoing.