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30 Jan, 2024 18:12

Russian Olympic skaters downgraded to bronze after Valieva ban

The teenage figure skater was banned this week for four years over a doping violation ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics
Russian Olympic skaters downgraded to bronze after Valieva ban

The United States has replaced Russia as the reigning Olympic figure skating champions in the team event, the sport’s governing body said on Tuesday. The announcement comes a day after Russian teenager Kamila Valieva was hit with a four-year ban for a doping violation.

The suspension was issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday, more than two years after Valieva initially tested positive in a doping case that dominated the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

The International Skating Union (ISU) published an amended points table from the team figure skating event at the Olympics on Tuesday, removing the points scored by Valieva. The new tally demotes the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team from first place to third, with the US moving into the top position and Japan becoming runners-up.

In a statement on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it “welcomes” the clarity provided by the CAS ruling against Valieva. It said that it has “great sympathy” for the athletes who had to wait for more than two years to receive the final results of the team figure skating event.

The IOC added that it will contact the relevant sporting bodies “in order to organize a dignified Olympic medal ceremony.” Valieva’s three teammates will be eligible to receive bronze medals, though she herself will not.

The IOC also said that “the part played by the athletes’ entourage in doping cases” must be further examined. Valieva, then 15 years old, tested positive for banned heart medication, also known to produce performance-enhancing benefits, in a test conducted in December 2021. The test results were not revealed until after she had helped the Russian team win gold.

The teenager claimed in her defense that she had accidentally consumed the substance which had been prescribed to her grandfather. However, in its Monday ruling, CAS said that it could find no definitive evidence that the drug, trimetazidine, was not ingested deliberately.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested the CAS findings were politically motivated, adding that Russian officials will consider an appeal. “If there are at least some opportunities for challenging [the ruling] and to continue protecting the rights of our athletes, they need to be mobilized,” he said.

The Russian Olympic Committee also on Monday disputed the CAS judgment, questioning the “impartiality and objectivity of this international structure” and said that “a war has been declared to Russian sport.” The ROC also vowed to take “appropriate measures to ensure legal defense of Russia’s interests.”