Team USA wanted its silver medals after finishing second to a Russian team inspired by Kamila Valieva
Team USA has failed in a bid to officially receive figure skating team event silver medals at the Winter Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) turned down its appeal following the cancelation of the ceremony which would have seen Russian athletes win gold.
The ceremony, which would also have seen Japan take bronze, had been due to take place more than a week ago, only to be called off by what the IOC and the International Skating Union (ISU) initially described as a legal issue.
That turned out to center on a test submitted by Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) star Kamila Valieva at the Russian championships on December 25.
In the high-profile ensuing saga, Valieva was allowed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to proceed to an individual event which would not have had a medal ceremony had the pre-Games favorite to win gold achieved a podium place.
Valieva produced an uncharacteristically imperfect performance to finish fourth, and her anti-doping case over a non-performance enhancing heart drug that was detected in her system will now be resolved after the Games.
Nine American athletes, including men’s individual champion Nathan Chen, challenged the ceremony decision at the CAS.
Their case has been dismissed amid uncertainty over whether the ROC’s result will be allowed to stand. Valieva is said to have argued that the angina medicine found in her system was present as a result of contamination from treatment taken by her grandfather, and she returned negative tests in January and at the Games.
Team USA skaters were offered olympic torches by the IOC in an attempt to ease the situation, although IOC president Thomas Bach, who has also criticized Valieva’s entourage for what he perceived as “chilling” conduct towards the 15-year-old, said those would not be substitutes for medals.
The stand-off is further complicated by the prospect of Canada ascending to the bronze medal position if the ROC is disqualified.
ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov wrote a letter to the ISU insisting that the results of the team competition “are not subject to revision under any circumstances”.
Pozdnyakov argued that anti-doping cases can only wipe out results of Olympic team events if alleged violations take place during the Games.
One significant question in Valieva’s case is how the result from the sample under scrutiny took more than six weeks to materialize after being sent to a laboratory accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Stockholm.
Valieva’s result for the substance, which is on WADA’s banned list, was only revealed the day after the team event, in which the 15-year-old became the first female to land a quad at the Olympics.