During the Beijing Olympics of 2022, the top three countries of the figure skating team competition were the Russian Olympic Committee, the United States, and Japan.
After the team event had happened, it was later discovered that a member of the Russian Olympic Team, Kamila Valieva, was found to be illegally taking performance enhancing drugs.
However, rather than the Russian Olympic team becoming disqualified all together, the medal ceremony for the team event was simply delayed. This choice was made with the idea that Kamila Valieva’s doping case will be quickly evaluated by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti Doping Agency, and the Court of Arbitration of sports, with the medals being given based on the final joint decision of these bodies.
Yet, a year after the Olympics, neither Team USA nor Team Japan have received any medals for their performance during the team event, partially in part because of the inability of these bodies to come to a final consensus on how to deal with Kamila’s case due to her status as a protected minor.
In response to the lack of a final decision from these bodies, the board for figure skating in the United States, US Figure Skating, has posted the following message with hopes to draw attention to the unfairness that the American team has faced due to this whole situation.
“As we approach the one year anniversary of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, US Figure Skating and its athletes are deeply frustrated by the lack of the final decision in the Team Event. We’re very proud of how our Olympic medalists have carried themselves with poise and dignity since earning medals in Beijing. They have long deserved the recognition that has been withheld due to the ongoing process. US Figure Skating calls for a fair and appropriate ruling to rightfully award medals to all the clean athletes affected by this situation.”
The athletes of Team USA have also attempted to call out the Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union for their failure to respond to the situation they’ve unfairly been in because of the olympics. For example, mens skater Vincent Zhou, who competed in the mens section of the team event posted the following to his instagram account,
“Please engage in and perpetuate this important conversation using the hashtag #morethanmedals- it’s about more than just the medals. We uphold the principles of fair and clean sport and we expect our peers and competitors to do the same.”
Additionally, other athletes of Team USA, such as ice dancer Zach Donohue and pairs skater Alexa Knierim have also posted about the situation, where they mentioned that a great part of their frustration was the fact that they have not been recognized for their life’s hard work, and that it was pity to not have the medals in their possession to signify this effort.
The doping story of Kamila Valieva is one that is quite tragic. It is a case that underscores the abusive culture that has been perpetuated within Russian figure skating, in which coaches will physically abuse and dope young girls with the hopes of winning Olympic medals.
Valieva’s situation also highlights how Russia has not changed their stances on doping, despite the fact they have been caught for state sponsored doping in the Sochi 2014 olympics, and are no longer allowed to compete under their national flag.
However, another overlooked tragedy of this whole situation is that the athletes that 0did play fair, such as Team USA and Team Japan, are continuing to not be acknowledged for their efforts due to the failure of international bodies to be able to properly make a decision about something that should be so clear cut; if you dope, you should be disqualified.