U.S. Skaters File Appeal to Get Olympic Medals in Beijing

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — The U.S. figure skaters whose Olympic silver medals are being withheld have filed an appeal to have them awarded before the end of the Beijing Games, with a decision expected before the closing ceremony.

According to The Associated Press, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said it would hear the case in Beijing Saturday night and expects a quick ruling.

In a letter sent to IOC president Thomas Bach, a copy of which was obtained by AP, attorneys for the skaters said they sought a decision before Sunday’s closing ceremony.

Kamila Valieva led the Russian team to a victory in last week’s team event, and the U.S. finished second. The positive drug test on the fifteen-year-old skater soon after was made public. CAS allowed her to continue skating at the women’s event, but the International Olympic Committee said it would not award medals in any events in which she finished among the top three.
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She finished fourth in the women’s event — crying as she left the ice, then criticized by her coach after a mistake-filled long program.

It concerns the week before’s team event. This event was won by the Russians in a huge victory. Canada came in fourth, while Japan finished third. The appeal was not filed by either of these countries. It named the IOC the respondent.

Alexa Knierim of the United States and Brandon Frazier came in sixth place for the pairs event. Afterward, Frazier said “they should have a ceremony for the clean athletes that delivered. They deserve that.”

Frazier and Knierim are among the nine U.S. skaters who would receive medals, though neither were directly involved in the appeal as they prepared for Saturday night’s competition.

The letter sent on behalf of the American runners-up says the IOC’s “own rules mandate that a victory ceremony ‘to present medals to the athletes shall follow the conclusion of each sports event.’”

Bach gave the Olympic torch to the skaters as a memento during a meeting this week. The doping investigation could last months or years.

They wrote Bach that their attorneys hoped for the IOC to reconsider, but they also stated they wanted the IOC to file an appeal due to the urgency.

U.S. Ramsey Baker, Figure Skating’s executive director sent an AP message in support of skaters.

“Having a medal ceremony at an Olympic Games is not something that can be replicated anywhere else, and they should be celebrated in front of the world before leaving Beijing,” Baker said.

Paul Greene (an attorney representing athletes in cases against Olympic authorities and doping) wrote to Bach stating that the IOC president asked for the input of the athletes.

“A dignified medal ceremony from our clients’ vantage point is one in the Medals Plaza as originally planned and afforded to all other medalists,” he wrote.

After Valieva’s test became public, Russia’s anti-doping agency at first put her on provisional suspension, then lifted the suspension. The IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency launched an appeal to CAS. They quickly responded and declared that Valieva was still able to compete.

However, this did not address the more important question regarding the results of the team competition.

The U.S. team stands to get some sort of medal out of that — either the second-place prize they’re aiming to receive this weekend, or a gold that could become theirs if the Russian’s are disqualified because of Valieva’s doping case.

Because she is 15, Valieva is considered a “protected person” under anti-doping rules, and is not expected to receive a harsh penalty. Russian and international anti-doping authorities are investigating her coaches and doctors.


The report was written by Aaron Morrison and Dave Skretta (Associated Press).


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