- Skaters still haven’t received their medals from the 2022 Winter Olympics figure skating team event.
- Their hardware has gotten caught in a legal battle over Russian skater Kamila Valieva’s doping case.
- US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart told Insider he laments that “dreams are hanging in the balance.”
Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, and Karen Chen led Team USA to an impressive second-place finish in the 2022 Winter Olympics figure skating team event.
More than a year later, they still don’t have their medals to show for it.
The Olympic hardware for that event has gotten caught in the middle of a legal battle over the eligibility of Russian skater Kamila Valieva, the then-15-year-old phenom who helped her country take gold despite testing positive for a banned substance two months earlier. As doping agencies and the highest courts in sport continue to adjudicate Valieva’s case and determine whether she and Team Russia should be stripped of their medals, the Americans have been left in an excruciating limbo.
Nathan Chen (center) and his US Figure Skating teammates await results at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
“US Figure Skating and its athletes are deeply frustrated by the lack of a final decision in the Team Event,” a representative for US Figure Skating told Insider. “We’re very proud of how our Olympic medalists have carried themselves with poise and dignity since earning medals in Beijing.”
“They have long deserved the recognition that has been withheld due to the ongoing process,” they added.
In October 2022, after nearly a year without progress from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in coming to a decision on Valieva’s case, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Bańka said his organization put RUSADA under “formal notice” due to concerns “with the ongoing delay in Kamila Valieva’s case.” Then, in January, RUSADA finally concluded its investigation by absolving the young star of all “fault or negligence” associated with the December 2021 test that showed a banned heart drug, Trimetazidine, which can potentially boost performance, in her urine.
Valieva reacts after competing in the women’s singles free skating final at the Beijing Olympics.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
This week, WADA argued those findings “to be wrong under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code” and formally appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Bańka’s agency is seeking not only to void all of Valieva’s results from the 2022 Beijing Olympics (she also finished fourth in the women’s singles event), but also to disqualify her from competition for “a four-year period,” which would include the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Should CAS side with WADA in its appeal, American skaters would earn gold for their second-place finish in the Beijing figure skating team competition. Japan — which finished third in the event — would bump up to silver, while Canada would take the bronze.
US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart told Insider his agency is “very thankful” for WADA’s appeal, which “had to be done in order to restore some confidence in the global anti-doping system.” But with CAS often taking months or even years to decide its cases, Tygart warns that American athletes’ “dreams are hanging in the balance” even still.
Team USA’s Karen Chen (left) and Nathan Chen at the victory ceremony for the figure skating mixed team competition at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
“Let’s hope the hearing is expedited and open to the public,” the USADA chief executive told Insider, adding that he hopes athletes “can believe in the final outcome, whatever it may be, and that some justice can be salvaged soon.”
US Figure Skating similarly called for “a fair and appropriate ruling to rightfully award medals to all clean sport athletes affected by this situation.”
Discussion about this post