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After 721 days, US figure skaters celebrating Olympic gold 

Reuters

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After 721 days, US figure skaters celebrating Olympic gold 

CONTROVERSIAL. Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva performs her routing during the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Aleksandra Szmigiel/REUTERS

Team USA finally claims the Olympic figure skating gold as Russian teen Kamila Valieva gets banned for doping, but the controversy doesn’t end there

United States Olympic chiefs are eager to push ahead with long-overdue gold medal celebrations after figure skater Kamila Valieva was found guilty of doping at 2022 Beijing Games, thus removing Russia as winners of the team event.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday, January 29, banned teenager Valieva for four years for doping, effective from December 2021, stripping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) of its gold medal and elevating the US to top spot on the podium.

Japan moves up a step to silver and it was thought that Canada, who finished fourth in the event, would be promoted to bronze. 

However, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Tuesday, January 30, the ROC’s total score even after Valieva’s marks were erased was still a point better than the Canadians.

Skate Canada said it is considering appealing the ISU’s decision while the ROC has already confirmed it will appeal on the CAS ruling, both of which could further delay the awarding of medals.

Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic and Paralymic (USOPC) acknowledged the appeals during a conference call on Tuesday, January 30, but was already looking into where and when US skaters would get their gold.

“There are some appeals available to the Swiss tribunal which is a procedural appeal,” said Hirshland. “We have a high degree of confidence, and I have been given very clear directions, that we should proceed in awarding medals to the United States team and that’s what we are going to do.

“Regardless (of appeals) there is no scenario at this point in which Team USA is not the gold medal winners.

“Everyone has a sense of urgency and there is no reason for any delay.”

Canada  ‘extremely disappointed’

Skate Canada argued that the ISU was not applying Rule 353, which states that “competitors having finished the competition and who initially placed lower than the disqualified competitor will move up accordingly in their placement.”

“Skate Canada is extremely disappointed with the International Skating Union’s position on the long-awaited awarding of medals,” the national federation said in a statement.

The Canadian Olympic Committee said it was working with Skate Canada on exploring a potential appeal.

“Skate Canada strongly disagrees with the ISU’s position on this matter and will consider all options to appeal this decision,” the national federation said.

“We recognize how difficult this process is for all the athletes and give our support to the Canadian skaters who made us so proud,” it added in a statement. 

“This is a reminder of how harmful doping is and how crucial it is that we have a fair and safe sport system at home and around the world.”

Awarded quietly

How and when the US team of Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim and Vincent Zhou get their gold will be decided by the skaters and US Olympic officials.

In the past, some redistributed medals have been awarded during another Olympics while others have been handed over quietly in hotel rooms or private gatherings without any pomp or ceremony.

“We are going to consider all of the possibilities what will be the best logistically and what will be the best situation for Team USA to be together with the people that are most important to them in that celebration,” said Hirshland.

“It doesn’t have to be a ceremony with all three – the gold, silver, bronze – awarded in the same place at the same time.

“We’ve got a bit of flexibility to think about what’s going to be best for Team USA independent of what might be best for Japan and ultimately ROC or Canada, however that ends up playing out.

“But our goal, our focus is on Team USA independently.”

After waiting 721 days to be confirmed as Olympic gold medalists, world champion ice dancers Chock and Bates, who won a their fifth US Championship title on Saturday, indicated that they want the full Olympic experience they were denied in Beijing.

“When all this initially happened the first thing came to everyone’s mind was we would love to have a true Olympic medal ceremony,” said Chock. “So for us it would be a medal ceremony at the Paris Games this summer.

“That would be the dream scenario to stand a top the podium at an Olympic event and be there with our families and just to celebrate and be surrounded by the Olympic spirit and the Olympic movement would be our dream scenario.” – Rappler.com

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