Updated Jan 30, 2024 - Sports

Team USA wins Olympic gold after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's ban

Then-silver medalists Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue of Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China.

Then-silver medalists Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was given a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday after it found she had "committed an anti-doping rule violation."

Why it matters: Team USA confirmed late Monday the U.S. figure skating team had been awarded a 2022 Winter Olympics gold medal as a consequence of the CAS backdating the ban to disqualify Valieva from all contests where she medaled during the affected period — including the Beijing Games.

  • The CAS' final ruling follows a long-running battle that began when a then 15-year-old Valieva tested positive for a banned substance months before the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Driving the news: Groups including the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee appealed the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's decision to lift Valieva's suspension for testing positive for the heart drug trimetazidine at the Russian national championships on Dec. 25, 2021.

State of play: The CAS backdated its ban to this date, so Valieva's suspension is due to run through 2025 — meaning she's disqualified from all contests where she medaled during the affected period.

  • This includes the Beijing Games, where she helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team win gold and beat the U.S. figure skating team into second place.
  • The impact of the CAS ruling on 17-year-old Valieva's disqualification was a matter for the International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee.
  • U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart in a statement earlier Monday pressed the bodies to award the Beijing gold to "the rightful winners of the Team Figure Skating event" so they can be "recognized as the Olympic champions that they are."

What they're saying: "We are extremely proud of our 2022 Olympic champions – Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue – for their excellence on and off the ice," said U.S. Figure Skating in a post to X late Monday welcoming the medal decision.

Russian Olympic Committee figure skater Kamila Valieva at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Russian Olympic Committee figure skater Kamila Valieva at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Meanwhile, WADA welcomed in a statement the CAS decision calling doping of children "unforgivable," adding: "Doctors, coaches or other support personnel who are found to have provided performance-enhancing substances to minors should face the full force of the World Anti-Doping Code."

The other side: Valieva's team has maintained her positive test was due to a mix-up with her grandfather's heart medication.

  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov in a statement carried by Russian state media called Valieva's ban "a policitized decision"and said the Russian Figure Skating Federation considers the ROC athletes to be the winners of the Winter Olympics team tournament, despite the CAS decision.

Flashback: The World Anti-Doping Agency in December 2019 banned Russia from international sporting competitions for four years after finding state authorities had tampered with a doping laboratory's database.

Go deeper: How the system failed Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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