2022 Olympics: Russia to be awarded bronze medal despite Kamila Valieva doping disqualification

Russia holds onto bronze, keeping Canada off the podium in controversial decision

The Beijing Olympics concluded nearly two years ago, but even so, the United States has just added several new gold medal winners.

Russian skater Kamila Valieva has been disqualified from all events dating from Dec. 25, 2021 forward due to her use of an unauthorized heart medication, per a decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport released Monday. As a result of that disqualification, Russia's team at the 2022 Games has lost its gold medal standing. The International Skating Union announced Tuesday morning that the absence of Valieva's contribution to the team means the United States and Japan have moved past Russia to claim gold and silver, respectively.

Valieva, the ISU noted, will be "disqualified from the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Women’s single competition and all her individual results and points in the Short Program and the Free Skating competitions will be dismissed leading to a re-ranking of the Team event results." Valieva did not medal in the individual event, placing fourth.

However, Valieva was part of Russia's team events, and won first place in both the women's free skate and women's short program events in the team competition. Both of those victories added 10 points apiece to Russia's total. Russia ended the competition with 74 points, while the United States had 65 points and Japan had 63. Removing Valieva's contributions left Russia with 54 points — enough, at the moment, for Russia to retain a bronze medal.

There's another wrinkle to the story, though. Canada earned 53 points in Beijing. Removing Valieva's two entries would theoretically move Canada's Madeline Schizas from third — an eight-point award — to second and nine points in both events. That, in turn, would move Canada's total points from 53 to 55 — enough to pass Russia for the bronze medal.

(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports illustration)
(Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports illustration)

The ISU's own rules appear to provide for such movement. According to Section 353.4.a of the International Skating Union's Special Regulations & Technical Rules, "Disqualified Competitors will lose their placements and be officially noted in the intermediate and final results as disqualified (DSQ). Competitors having finished the competition and who initially placed lower than the disqualified Competitor(s) will move up accordingly in their placement(s)." This rule specifically applies to individual and pairs skating competitions. The rules elsewhere stipulate that rules for team competitions will be done "in consultation with the IOC."

In a statement, Skate Canada, the nation's organizing body for skating, "strongly disagrees with the ISU's position on this matter and will consider all options to appeal this decision."

Canada isn't the only nation planning an appeal. Russia's Olympic Committee indicated it "will definitely appeal" the ISU's decision. "We proceed from the fact that, in accordance with the current, applicable ISU rules, the consequences of a decision on sanctions against an individual athlete .... cannot be a basis of reviewing the results of a team tournament."