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Team USA will leave Beijing without their team figure skating medals

“Four years of hard work just to wait for UPS to deliver your Olympic medal. Hope they have tracking numbers at least,” retired skater Chris Knierim said jokingly.

WASHINGTON — With the ongoing controversy surrounding Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva's positive drug test, the United States is going to have to wait a while for their medals from the team figure skating competition.  

While Valieva has been cleared to compete in the women's competition, the IOC announced there will be no medal ceremony in Beijing for the team event won by the 15-year-old and the Russian team a week ago.

“It would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony," the IOC said.

Valieva landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman at the Olympics as the Russian team won gold in a dominant performance.

The decision not to award medals also affects Nathan Chen and the rest of the second-place American team, who will leave Beijing unsure if they won silver or gold. It would be Chen's second gold of the Games. If Valieva and Russia are disqualified, Japan moves up to silver and Canada wins bronze.

“We are devastated that they will leave Beijing without their medals in hand, but we appreciate the intention of the IOC to ensure the right medals are awarded to the right individuals,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.

There also won't be a medal ceremony for the women's competition if Valieva finishes in the top three because the International Olympic Committee is concerned that she could still be banned after a full investigation of her doping case. The three-member court ruled only on whether she could skate at the Olympics and did not consider the full merits of the case.

Veteran IOC member Denis Oswald explained to reporters it would be difficult to give the team medals out currently because the situation is not final. 

"The IOC decided to make the effort to have a very special ceremony for these teams when we know what kind of medal they will get," he explained.  

The IOC has said it will “organize dignified medal ceremonies” once Valieva's case is decided, but that could be months down the road. The organizing committee also did not explain where or how it might be held.

“So everyone's medals are going to be shipped to them? Yay for Olympic moments,” said retired pairs skater Chris Knierim, whose wife, Alexa Knierim, and partner Brandon Frazier helped the U.S. win team silver last week.

“Four years of hard work just to wait for UPS to deliver your Olympic medal. Hope they have tracking numbers at least,” Knierim said jokingly. “It's going to take extra long because we all know how fast customs is.”

The U.S earned the silver after strong performances by individual skaters Nathan Chen, Karen Chen and Vincent Zhou, ice dancing teams Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue as well as Madison Chock and Evan Bates and the pairs team of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier.

Credit: AP
U.S. athletes, members of the silver medalists team, hold up the mascot during a victory ceremony after the team event in the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

However, the U.S. celebration was tempered by the news on Sunday that Zhou tested positive for COVID-19. After a subsequent positive test, he had to withdraw from the men's individual competition which started Monday.

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