US Olympic figure skaters still owed gold medals after a Russian doping scandal at the 2022 Beijing Games want to receive their awards during a special ceremony at the upcoming Paris Summer Olympics.
American ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates touted the notion — with Chock calling it “our dream scenario” — while speaking Tuesday for the first time since a bombshell international sporting panel’s decision recently awarded them and the rest of the US figure-skating team gold medals in the team event.
The long-overdue US medal victory came after Russian team member Kamila Valieva was retroactively disqualified for doping at the last winter Olympics, moving the American team up from silver.
Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication six weeks before taking the ice in Beijing, but those test results only came to light hours after the then-15-year-old competed at the Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee decided to not have a medals ceremony in the team event at the time until a probe was conducted, with the findings finally coming out Monday.
The US skating team — having been robbed of their Olympic moment on top of the podium in 2022 — said they are now hoping to recapture some of that magic during the 2024 Summer Games if the International Olympic Committee allows.
“When all of this initially happened, the first thing that came to everyone’s mind was we would love to have a true Olympic medal ceremony, and so for us that would be a medal ceremony at the Paris Games this summer,” Chock said, referring to the panel’s decision during a 30-minute teleconference organized by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
“To be able to stand atop of the podium at an Olympic event and be there with our families, and just to celebrate and be surrounded by the Olympic spirit and the Olympic movement, would be our dream scenario,” she added.
USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said on the call with reporters that the time, place and logistics of the medals ceremony have not been set yet.
The other US skaters set to receive a team gold medal are Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim and Vincent Zhou.
Under the International Skating Union’s unprecedented ruling delivered Monday, Japan has been upgraded from bronze to silver.
But the ISU said Russia’s team skaters will still capture the bronze, having come one point ahead of Canada even after being stripped of the points Valieva earned with her short and free ice programs.
Furious Canadian officials said they may appeal the ruling.
Russia is all but certain to also appeal the gold-medal verdict, but Hirshland insisted that such a move will have no bearing on the timing of the medals ceremony for the nine American athletes.
“There is no scenario at this point in which Team USA is not the gold-medal winners,” she said. “There is no reason for any delay.”
As for the whereabouts of the gold medals that were supposed to be awarded in Beijing, Hirshland said she is not “100% confident” where the precious sports hardware is at the moment — but she has a good guess.
“My best guess is those medals are probably sitting in a very safe place in Lausanne, Switzerland, waiting to be awarded,” she said, referring to the home of the IOC’s headquarters.
Chock and her longtime partner and fiancé, Bates, coming fresh off winning their fifth national title, which they clinched over the weekend in Ohio, welcomed the court’s decision nearly two years in the making.
“It’s just a feeling I’ve always dreamed of and one I almost cannot believe it’s here,” Chock said. “It’s been a very happy 24 of news for us.”
The elite athlete admitted that the controversy that roiled Olympic figure skating in Beijing, followed by more than 700 days of waiting for an outcome, has marred her experience.
“We never anticipated that it would take two years to receive the results or to receive our medal,” Chock said. “There was a small underlying feeling of maybe a little bit of sadness and disappointment that we didn’t get that Olympic moment.”
But now she said it “feels almost like a weight has been lifted. … It almost feels like we are celebrating our Olympic experience all over again.”
Bates said the skaters had no insight into the court’s proceedings and were in the dark about how the case would turn out until the very last moment.
“It’s been quite a surreal experience,” the champion ice dancer said. “When we went to bed on Sunday night, we were bracing ourselves for news that it was going to be silver, and we woke up to the incredible news that it’s gold.”
Of the nine athletes who were part of the US team in Beijing, Chock, 31, and Bates, 34, are the only skaters still competing today. The other seven have since retired from the sport.
Bates said he prefers to focus on the positive aspects of the ruling, namely, that the verdict is a vindication for “clean” athletes who compete without the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.
“This is, I think, a landmark case, this is a monumental thing. This is an unprecedented event where 20-something clean athletes left the Olympics Games without a medal they won cleanly. And yesterday, I think, in large part the finding by [the panel] brought some justice to the clean sport movement,” he said.
“I think clean athletes around the world, hopefully, will find some joy and some … solace in knowing clean sport matters and the fight against doping is ongoing,” Bates added.
Even if Russia keeps the bronze ahead of Canada, Valieva will receive no medal because of the ruling.
The decision also banned the now 18-year-old Russian for four years dating back to Dec. 25, 2021 — the date of the positive test. The ruling vacates Valieva’s results after that date; it will end about two months before the next Winter Games in Italy in 2026.
Russia immediately blasted the verdict, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissing it as “politicized.”
With Post wires
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