Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was banned for four years

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was banned for four years for doping, ending 2022 Olympic drama – USA TODAY

Monday's ruling means the International Skating Union is now called upon to decide the results of the 2022 team figure skating competition for the Beijing Olympics.

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was banned for four yearsplay

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In a stunning rebuke of Russia's notorious doping system, the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday morning banned Russian Olympic figure skater Kamila Valieva for four years and declared that her results at the 2022 Olympics had been annulled for almost two years.

The CAS ruling means that the International Skating Union, figure skating's global governing body, is now required to decide on the results of the 2022 team figure skating competition based on the tribunal's decision. If Valieva's results are not recognized and/or the Russian team is disqualified, the ISU will likely let the United States advance to the gold medal, followed by Japan with the silver medal and fourth-place Canada advancing to the bronze medal.

An ISU spokesperson told USA TODAY Sports in an email that the association would issue a statement on the situation on Tuesday.

“It is now imperative that the ISU implement the technical decision to disqualify them from the Games and distribute the medals to the correct winners,” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart told USA TODAY Sports immediately after Announcement of the CAS decision.

Reacting to the CAS decision, Tygart said: “It is the right result and we hope that the clean athletes who took part in the Games can finally take some joy and satisfaction from their long wait for justice, even though their moment never comes will be replaced.” At the same time, our hearts hurt for another Russian athlete for whom the system failed, namely a 15-year-old girl. The system has to repair itself.”

The decision comes 720 days after then-15-year-old Valieva led Russia to a gold medal in the Olympic team competition in Beijing on February 7, 2022. The United States came second and Japan third.

But the next day the medal ceremony for the event was canceled and the results were thrown into disarray after it was discovered that Valieva had tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine at the Russian championships six weeks earlier.

The CAS decided that Valieva's four-year ban will begin from the date she took this test, December 25, 2021.

Once the ISU decides who will win the medals, it remains unclear how the skaters will actually receive their medals. One idea is to honor the medalists with a ceremony this summer at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

There is certainly no playbook for this. Never before has an Olympic medal ceremony been canceled, and never before have athletes had to wait for their medals, which will actually take more than two years.

After the Beijing Olympics ended, the only organization tasked with launching the Valieva investigation was the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, itself suspended from 2015 to 2018 for helping Russian athletes cheat. Not surprisingly, RUSADA dithered and delayed for most of the rest of 2022, delaying the process for months.

Valieva's hearing before a three-member CAS panel was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in late September 2023, but was delayed even further when the arbitrators ordered “the production of further documentation,” requiring another meeting in early November before the arbitrators' deliberations began.

Outrage from U.S. and Japanese athletes accompanied this controversy from the moment Valieva's positive drug test forced the cancellation of the medal ceremony.

“Justice has not only been denied to the athletes who have been waiting nearly two years for their medals,” Tygart told USA TODAY Sports in November. “Justice has been defeated. The athletes will never be able to replace the moment they would have had on the Olympic medal podium.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement that it “welcomes” the CAS decision, adding: “WADA made this appeal to CAS in the interests of fairness for athletes and clean sport, and we believe that this has been implemented through this decision.”

The statement also discussed the lengthy process leading up to Monday's decision. “WADA understands the frustration of the affected parties at the time it has taken to process this case. In fact, WADA shared this frustration, which is why WADA applied pressure at every stage of the process, including during the first instance proceedings in Russia. “It is difficult to find a timely solution.”

In a statement from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, CEO Sarah Hirshland praised the decision. “Today is a day we have been eagerly awaiting for two years because it is a significant victory not only for Team USA athletes, but also for athletes worldwide who practice fair play and promote clean sports.”

“Team USA’s incredible athletes, including Evan Bates, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Zachary Donohue, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Alexa Knierim and Vincent Zhou, have demonstrated remarkable strength. Their outstanding performances in Beijing will forever symbolize their commitment to purify the competition.

“We now look forward to the day when we can wholeheartedly celebrate these athletes alongside their colleagues from around the world. Their moment is approaching, and when it comes, it will serve as evidence of the justice and recognition they truly deserve.”