Referees have rejected a last-ditch request by American figure skaters to have their silver medals awarded before the Olympics are over.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Sunday morning in Beijing that it had rejected the appeal of the nine skaters, who finished second in the team event marred by positive doping by 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva.
He did not elaborate on his decision and said he would release details in the coming days. The panel, made up of referees from Denmark, France and China, met for 2.5 hours on Saturday evening.
In an earlier ruling, CAS cleared Valieva to compete in the women’s event after her positive doping result was made public following the Russians’ victory in the team event. The International Olympic Committee responded by saying that no medals would be awarded in events where Valieva finished in the top three.
Losing the case means U.S. skaters will receive their medals months, if not years, after the Valieva case works its way through hearings and appeals. She led the Russians to a convincing victory in the team event. If this result is nullified, the United States would obtain gold medals.
The skaters had argued, unsuccessfully, that they should at least receive the silver medals before Sunday night’s closing ceremony. In a letter sent to IOC President Thomas Bach, obtained by The Associated Press, the skaters’ lawyer argued that “the IOC’s own rules require that a victory ceremony” to present medals to athletes follow the conclusion of each sporting event. ” “
“We are disappointed with the decision. It is unfortunate that these deserving athletes are leaving Beijing without their medals,” said Ramsey Baker, executive director of US Figure Skating. “We are proud of our team’s historic accomplishments and look forward to joining them, their families and friends, and the entire United States in celebrating their accomplishments at these Olympic Games.”
Hours before the decision, the American team of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier finished sixth in the pairs event. They are among the skaters who will receive the team event medals. After skating on Saturday, Frazier said “they should have a ceremony for the clean athletes who delivered. They deserve it.”
In the letter to Bach, attorney Paul Greene wrote “a Medal Ceremony worthy of our clients’ perspective is taking place in Medal Plaza as originally planned and granted to all other Medalists”.
Instead, skaters could end up with Olympic torches. During a meeting with the skaters earlier this week, Bach offered the torches as keepsakes while the doping case unfolds. He later said at a press conference that they were not intended to replace medals.
Valieva might never get anything. She finished fourth in the women’s event – crying as she walked off the ice, then slammed by her coach after a long, error-filled programme.
After her test became public knowledge, the Russian anti-doping agency first placed her on provisional suspension, then lifted the suspension. This prompted the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency to appeal to CAS, which acted quickly and said Valieva could still compete. This time, the CAS ruled in favor of the IOC.
However, neither of these decisions resolves the larger question of the outcome of the team competition.
Because she is 15, Valieva is considered a “protected person” under anti-doping rules and should not receive a harsh sanction. His coaches and doctors are under investigation by Russian and global anti-doping authorities.