US take Olympic gold, Russia bronze after Valieva doping ban

Washington DC - United States figure skaters have retroactively been declared champions at the 2022 Beijing Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision on the doping case of teenage Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.

Russia's figure skater Kamila Valieva competes in the women's short program during the Russian Grand Prix of Figure Skating at the Megasport Arena in Moscow on October 22, 2022. Teenage Russian skater Kamila Valieva received a four-year ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on January 29, 2024 for failing a doping test prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Russia's figure skater Kamila Valieva competes in the women's short program during the Russian Grand Prix of Figure Skating at the Megasport Arena in Moscow on October 22, 2022. Teenage Russian skater Kamila Valieva received a four-year ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on January 29, 2024 for failing a doping test prior to the 2022 Winter Olympics.  © NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

The figure skating ruling body ISU published the new ranking for the team event in Beijing on Tuesday, dismissing Valieva's individual results and points after she was banned for four years by the CAS.

"Ms Valieva will be disqualified from all competitions which took place during the period of ineligibility, this includes the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2022. She will also be disqualified from the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Women’s single competition and all her individual results and points in the Short Program and the Free Skating competitions will be dismissed," the ISU said.

With the new results, the US claimed gold in the team event with 65 points, Japan was awarded silver (63 points), and Russia took bronze (54 points). The Russians had initially scored 74 points.

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The then 15-year-old Valieva helped Russia win the team gold at the Beijing Games two years ago with a stunning performance.

But the medal ceremony never took place as it emerged right afterward that she had tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine on December 25, 2021, at the Russian championships.

Valieva was later cleared by a Russian anti-doping tribunal, but that ruling was contested by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the ruling skating body ISU who asked the CAS to impose a four-year ban and disqualification from all events after the positive test.

This was granted by the CAS on Monday after a long process, with Valieva being banned for four years starting from December 25, 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with figure skater Kamila Valieva during an awards ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games medal winners at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 26, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with figure skater Kamila Valieva during an awards ceremony for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games medal winners at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 26, 2022.  © Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

The Russian Olympic Committee called Valieva's ban a "declaration of war against Russian sport" and on Tuesday it announced it will challenge the new ISU ranking before the CAS.

"Our lawyers have already started to prepare all the documents for an appeal," it said in a statement.

"The disqualification of one participant cannot lead to a change in the result for the whole team. There are precedents for that," the Russian body stated.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has welcomed the CAS decision and the fact that it has been clarified.

The athletes involved in the competition at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing could now "receive the medals they have been waiting for so long," an IOC spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"The IOC is now in a position to award the medals according to the ranking list to be drawn up by the International Skating Union (ISU). We sympathize with the athletes who had to wait two years for the final results of their competition," they said.

The relevant National Olympic Committees will now be contacted to organize "a worthy Olympic medal ceremony", the IOC spokesperson added.

"This case and its circumstances are further evidence of the need to address the role that the athlete's environment plays in doping cases. Especially when the athletes are minors who are even more dependent on their entourage," they added.

US Figure Skating has reportedly already been informed by the IOC that their athletes will receive the gold medal.

The organization also wrote on X, formerly Twitter, late on Monday: "We are extremely proud of our 2022 Olympic champions – Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue – for their excellence on and off the ice."

Valieva has not competed internationally since the Beijing Games, with Russian skaters banned since the start of the country's invasion of Ukraine a few days after the closing ceremony in February 2022.

Her ban runs until December 2025, a few weeks before the next Winter Olympics in Milan/Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Cover photo: NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP

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