Olympics | Figure skating-Russian gold on hold amid reports of positive drug test

Figure Skating – Team Event – Women Single Skating – Free Skating
2022 Beijing Olympics – Figure Skating – Team Event – Women Single Skating – Free Skating – Capital Indoor Stadium, Beijing, China – February 7, 2022. Team of the Russian Olympic Committee celebrate on the podium after winning gold during the flower ceremony.
REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

The Russian figure skaters who won the team event at the Beijing Olympics on Monday have still not received their gold medals with media reports on Wednesday saying one had returned a positive drug test.

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

It was not clear in the media reports when the positive result occurred and what substance was traced. 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 taken place. 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 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, who were also on the winning team, showed up at practice.

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.