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Friday, March 1, 2024

Delayed Olympic Doping Verdict Sparks Controversy and Outrage

  • Canada and Russia are both planning to file appeals about the medal ranking.
  • The International Skating Union has not explained its rationale.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Many in the skating community thought Kamila Valieva’s guilty verdict by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for her doping charges on Monday would bring peace to the sport.

Not exactly.

The International Skating Union took its time with the decision—it didn’t immediately designate the U.S. as winners, but waited until Tuesday to do so. The ISU was apparently unprepared for the court’s decision, according to USA Today’s Christine Brennan.

When the ISU did finally make its announcement, giving the U.S. the gold and Japan the silver, it placed Russia at bronze. As NBC and the Olympics wish to turn all attention toward Paris (and away from their record-low viewership in 2022), the fallout from their flop in Beijing won’t seem to end.

Confusion and Fumes

Canada is not happy with the ISU’s decision to give Russia the bronze. Skate Canada, the sport’s governing body in the country, said Valieva’s disqualification should put its skaters ahead of Russia and into third place, and is considering “all options to appeal.”

The ISU has not responded to Brennan’s questioning of its new scoring. “From all appearances they picked the wrong bronze medalist. If they didn’t, why aren’t they telling us what they did?” Brennan posted on X.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin and the Russian Olympic Committee are fuming. “We do not agree with these decisions—neither with the decision of the court, nor with the decision of the (ice skating) federation. We don’t accept them,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

More Than Gold Lost

The U.S. athletes lost more than gold medals. Team USA awards $37,500 to gold medalists, but it’s not known how much, if any, they’ll receive now. Most of the team has moved on from competition (some are college students), and they likely would’ve welcomed the extra income.

On top of that, the athletes missed out on significant endorsement opportunities that come from the notoriety of winning the gold medal. For example: Nathan Chen, who won gold in the men’s singles competition, landed partnerships with Xfinity, Bridgestone, and Toyota.

And while earning gold is priceless, the decoration itself is estimated to be worth roughly $750, but it tends to sell for much more—usually around $20,000 to $50,000.

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