March 28, 2022
(Reuters) – There is no timeline yet for when nine United States team figure skaters will receive their Beijing Olympics medals, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Monday.
They finished second behind the Russian Olympic Committee in the team event on Feb. 7 but the International Olympic Committee ruled no medals would be presented after Russian teenager Kamila Valieva’s doping case forced a postponement of the ceremony.
Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim and Vincent Zhou lost their appeal for a ceremony 12 days later and USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said the wait will continue.
“RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency) holds the key for the initial investigation and needs to complete that investigation. WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is conducting an investigation of its own,” Hirshland told reporters.
“I know that our U.S. athletes and many from our country, as well as other countries, are participating in that WADA investigation. We’re incredibly proud and have encouraged everybody to do so.”
Fifteen-year-old Valieva tested positive for a banned heart drug after the Russian national championships on Dec. 25 but the result was not revealed until Feb. 8 after the team event.
The news sent shockwaves through the Beijing Games as the skating prodigy was favourite to take gold. She was later cleared to compete in the singles event, where she finished fourth.
“When those investigations are complete, we hope that there is some resolution as to whether those medals should be gold or silver,” said Hirshland.
“Then we’ll plan an incredible ceremony.”
The nine figure skaters were among the more than 800 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the Beijing and Tokyo Games that U.S. President Joe Biden has invited to a reception at the White House in May.
“We hope that’s an opportunity where we’ll have that team back together again and might be able to celebrate even if it can’t be with hanging a medal around their necks just yet,” said Hirshland.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)