U.S. Olympic figure skating team waits for silver medal that could turn to gold

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Determine skater Vincent Zhou educated his total life to earn an Olympic medal, a aim he achieved on the 2022 Beijing Olympics when the US positioned silver within the crew competitors. 

A 12 months later, Zhou and his teammates are nonetheless ready for his or her medal — and to listen to whether or not it is going to be silver or gold.

The Russian determine skating crew that received the gold in Beijing is below scrutiny for alleged doping, and if Russia is discovered to have used performance-enhancing medication, it could possibly be stripped of the medal. If that occurs, the U.S. crew could possibly be awarded the gold.

“Whereas the medals themselves are lacking, it’s consultant of a much bigger problem, the difficulty on how doping impacts clear sport and the Olympics,” Zhou stated in a current interview. 

One 12 months in the past, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva led the Russian Olympic Committee to victory within the occasion with an awe-inspiring efficiency as she grew to become the primary lady to land quadruple jumps in Olympic competitors.

Kamila Valieva from Russia at Figure Skating, Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Capital Indoor Stadium on February 17, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Kamila Valieva competes on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Video games, in Zhangjiakou, China, on Feb. 17, 2022.Ulrik Pedersen / NurPhoto by way of Getty Photographs file

However that very same day, a World Anti-Doping Company laboratory confirmed that Valieva had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug simply two months earlier, on Dec. 25, 2021. 

The drug, trimetazidine, is often prescribed to deal with chest ache, however it will probably additionally assist athletes carry out at larger coronary heart charges for an prolonged time frame. The World Anti-Doping Company first banned trimetazidine in 2014.

“For the pattern to have sat within the laboratory, to not have been expedited and reported in a well timed trend for her (Valieva) to have the ability to compete on Feb. 7 …  was only a horrible tragedy and oversight and failure of the system,” stated Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Company.

“The worst-case state of affairs is sending an athlete who has a pending constructive to a significant worldwide competitors.” 

Zhou stated he and his teammates are rising more and more pissed off as they anticipate the World Anti-Doping Company to determine what to do subsequent after the Russian Anti-Doping Company dominated final month that Valieva was not responsible of a doping infraction.

“It turns into clear that the entire scenario is unfair, {that a} skater who examined constructive was allowed to compete earlier than being cleared, as a result of that isn’t commonplace process,” Zhou stated. 

PARK CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 26: Figure Skater Vincent Zhou poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on September 26, 2017 in Park City, Utah.
Determine Skater Vincent Zhou poses for a portrait throughout the Group USA Media Summit forward of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Video games, in Park Metropolis, Utah, on Sept. 26, 2017.Ron Jenkins / Getty Photographs file

The World Anti-Doping Company stated in an announcement to NBC Information that it’s going to “contemplate what its subsequent steps can be in order that the matter is handled as shortly as doable and with out additional undue delay.”

Tygart stated he hopes the World Anti-Doping Company appeals the Russian company’s determination. 

“We want it had been totally different, however the current historical past and being noncompliant ought to have all advised us that we are able to’t let it [the Russian agency] make the preliminary determination, and right here we’re a 12 months later,” he stated.

The World Anti-Doping Company is contemplating an attraction to the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport, which settles worldwide sporting disputes. Relying on the result, the outcomes of the crew determine skating occasion may change.

In a single state of affairs, the U.S. may take house the gold, and Japan and Canada could possibly be bumped as much as silver and bronze, respectively. 

“For those who compete with athletes that doped, and doped athletes win, it’s solely honest that they’re disqualified, and also you get bumped as much as first place,” Zhou stated. 

Russian athletes had been barred from competing at the Olympics below the Russian flag due to an ongoing ban over the nation’s state-sponsored anti-doping program. The World Anti-Doping Company banned Russia from competing below its flag in 2019 after discovering it noncompliant in 2015 due to mass doping in Russian athletics. 

The Russian Olympic Committee didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the Valieva investigation. 

Adam Rippon, a former Olympic medalist and determine skating coach, stated that if he had been competing, he would need accountability from the Russian Anti-Doping Company.

“As a coach, I would like accountability, and there hasn’t been any and that’s what’s so irritating and never honest,” he stated, including that the U.S. Anti-Doping Company has a zero-tolerance coverage and the proper to check their athletes always, 24-hours a day. 

“We actually keep up night time and day checking the athletes’ check outcomes that we ship to the Video games and guaranteeing that they’re processed and reported,” Tygart stated. “You possibly can’t ship high-level athletes to main worldwide competitions with pending positives which might be excellent for six-plus weeks.”

The Worldwide Olympic Committee stated in an announcement that it welcomes a current announcement by the World Anti-Doping Company “to conduct a full evaluation of the RUSADA determination so as to contemplate what its subsequent steps can be in order that the matter is handled as shortly as doable and with out additional undue delay.”

“Solely the finalization of the case will allow the Worldwide Skating Union to ascertain the definitive outcomes of the determine skating crew competitors at these Video games and the IOC to determine on the medal allocation.”

However for Tygart and members of the U.S. determine skating crew, it could be too late.

“The harm is near being irreparable at this level,” Tygart stated. 

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