Russian figure skating medals delayed amid drug test reports


Gold medalists team from the Russian Olympic Committee celebrates following the victory ceremony after the team event in the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

BEIJING (Reuters) —The Russian figure skaters who won the team event at the Beijing Olympics on Monday have still not received their gold medals; according to media reports, one returned a positive drug test on Wednesday.

The International Olympic Committee, International Skating Union, Russian Olympic Committee and the international agency in charge of drugs testing during the Games declined to comment on reports by USA Today and The Guardian.

It was not clear in the media reports when the positive result occurred and what substance was detected. Under Olympic rules, performance-enhancing drugs attract a different penalty to those for recreational use.

The medal ceremony was postponed on Monday after the Russian team’s victory and had still not occurred on Wednesday. The United States took silver and Japan bronze in the competition.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IOC said: “legal consultations” had forced the postponement of the medals ceremony but said it would go ahead eventually.

“A situation arose at short notice that requires legal consultation,” IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said.

“You can bet your bottom dollar we are doing everything (so) that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible. I cannot give you any more details, but we will do our utmost.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they would wait for official statements before commenting on the matter.

Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old who landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman in Olympic competition, was one of four ROC athletes who did not appear at their practice sessions on Wednesday. Pairs dancers Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, and Mark Kondratiuk, also missed their sessions.

Ice dance pair Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, also on the winning team, showed up at practice.

Throughout the crisis, Ukraine’s leaders have sought to project calm — repeatedly playing down the threat of an invasion.

No Russian ice dancers, however, trained at a session slotted for them at a practice rink near Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night after the news broke.

Russian athletes are competing in Beijing as representatives of the ROC rather than their home nation due to doping sanctions.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as part of a policy change last year, reduced its bans for recreational drugs so that athletes who test positive out of competition would be banned for one to three months instead of two years.

According to WADA, for a substance to be on its prohibited list, it must meet any two of the following criteria: performance enhancement, danger to an athlete’s health, and a violation of the spirit of sport.

Calls to remove marijuana from WADA’s list of in-competition banned substances have become more frequent, and many athletes and experts have openly advocated for legalization.

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