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US figure skaters will be given torches, not medals, for now, AP sources say

The U.S. team had already received boxes for storing their medals when the ceremony was abruptly called off when Kamila Valieva's positive drug test came to light.

BEIJING, China — IOC president Thomas Bach offered U.S. figure skaters Olympic torches as holdover gifts while they await a resolution of the Russian doping case that is preventing them from receiving their silver medals, The Associated Press has learned.

Two people familiar with the events told AP late Wednesday that Bach, in a private meeting with the skaters in Beijing, reiterated the IOC stance that no medals ceremonies would be held for events involving Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. The people did not want their names used because the meeting was confidential.

Officials from the International Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to an email query from AP.

Men's champion Nathan Chen and the U.S. finished runner-up to Russia in the team event last week, but the outcome was quickly thrown into chaos when reports surfaced that Valieva had used a banned medication.

Credit: AP
Silver medalists Karen Chen and Nathan Chen pose for a photo 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)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Valieva was still eligible to compete in this week's women's event while her case wound through the anti-doping system. That case will ultimately determine the status of the medals. Valieva led the women's contest after the short program.

The nine-person U.S. team stands to at least get silver but could end up with the gold if Valieva is disqualified. The skaters had already received boxes for storing their medals when they learned the ceremony was off.

The people familiar with the meeting said torches used during the traditional Olympic flame relay had already been given to team staff to be presented later to the athletes.

Credit: AP
Torch relay runners hold the Olympics torch as they pose with the mascot and residents at an Olympics monument at a park after taking part in the torch relay run for the Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

After the CAS decision, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland said the federation was “disappointed by the message this decision sends” and suggested athletes were denied the confidence of knowing they competed on a level playing field.

Neither USOPC officials nor officials at U.S. Figure Skating immediately responded to emails from AP seeking comment.

 

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