Zhangjiakou, China (AFP) – US skaters whose Olympic silver medals have been withheld have filed an appeal to be awarded before the end of the Beijing Games, and a decision is expected before the closing ceremony.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed to the Associated Press that it was looking into the case on Saturday night in Beijing and expected a speedy ruling.
in a letter The skaters’ lawyers sent International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, and said they sought a decision before Sunday’s closing ceremony.
Kamila Valeeva led the Russian team to victory in the team event last week, with the United States taking second place. Soon, the 15-year-old skater’s positive doping test was revealed. The Chinese Sports Academy allowed her to continue skating in the women’s event, but the International Olympic Committee said it would not award medals in any events in which she placed in the top three.
She finished fourth in the women’s championship – crying as she left the ice, then criticized by her coach after a long program full of mistakes.
This case includes the team event that took place last week. The Russians won the event by a large margin. Japan came in third and Canada in fourth place. Neither country took part in the appeal, which named the IOC the defendant.
Team USA, consisting of Alexa Knirim and Brandon Fraser, finished sixth in the pairs competition. After that, Frazier said “they should have a party for the clean athletes. They deserve it.”
Frazier and Knierim are among the nine American figure skaters to receive medals, although they were not directly involved in the appeal as they prepared for Saturday night’s competition.
The letter sent on behalf of the US runner-up says that “the rules of the International Olympic Committee state that the victory ceremony” for the presentation of medals to athletes must follow the conclusion of each sporting event. “
In a meeting earlier this week with the skaters, Bach offered them Olympic torches as something of a memento lingering during the implementation of the doping case, which could take months or even years.
In their letter to Bach, the lawyers said they hoped the IOC would reconsider, but because of urgency, they were appealing.
U.S. Figure Skating Executive Director Ramsay Baker sent the Associated Press a statement supporting the skaters.
“Having a medal ceremony at the Olympics is not something that can be replicated anywhere else, and should be celebrated in front of the world before leaving Beijing,” Becker said.
The letter to Bach, sent by lawyer Paul Green, who represents athletes in doping and other cases against Olympic authorities, said the IOC president had asked the athletes for their opinion.
He wrote: “The honorable medal ceremony from our client’s point of view is one at Medals Plaza as originally planned and awarded to all other medalists.”
After Valeeva’s test became public, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency initially temporarily suspended her, then lifted the suspension. This prompted the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which acted quickly and said Valeeva could still compete.
This did not solve the larger question about the outcome of the team’s competition.
Team USA is on the cusp of some sort of medal out of that – either the runner-up prize they’re aiming for this weekend, or the gold that could become theirs if the Russians are disqualified over Valeeva’s doping case.
Because she is 15, Valeeva is considered a “protected person” under anti-doping rules, and she is not expected to receive a severe punishment. The coaches and doctors are under investigation by the Russian and world anti-doping authorities.
Associated Press writers Graham Dunbar, Dave Skrita and Aaron Morrison contributed to this report.
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