From time to time, Nathan Chen and the other U.S. figure skaters who finished second in the team competition at the Beijing Olympics will chat as a group and catch up on everything going on in their lives.
And things that don’t happen, like the medal ceremony for the Winter Games.
Eight months after finishing behind the Russians, the U.S. team has yet to receive its medals and doesn’t even know if it will be silver or gold. Russia’s anti-doping agency only recently completed its painfully slow investigation into Kamil Valiyev, the now 16-year-old prodigy whose positive doping test during the first week of the Olympics led to her biggest scandal in years.
RUSADA did not reveal the results of its investigation, although it said the next step would be to hold disciplinary hearings in September or early October. That timeframe came and went without any updates.
“That’s probably the hardest part, because you don’t have any knowledge of the situation,” Chen, who also won individual gold in Beijing, told The Associated Press. “We get updates and it’s always, ‘We have no idea what’s going on.’ It’s super annoying.”
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which was outraged that there were no medal awards at all during the Beijing Games, continues to push the International Olympic Committee for some sort of resolution in the case.
That probably won’t happen anytime soon, though. If Valieva is found to have violated doping rules, she would likely appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. And if she gets the nod, it would be the World Anti-Doping Agency or the International Skating Union that would likely appeal to the highest court in international sport.
CAS ruled during the Olympics that Valieva, whose positive test for the angina drug came from a sample taken last December, could continue to compete in the women’s competition in Beijing. The heavy favorite cracked under intense scrutiny, falling several times during the free skate and ending up on the podium.
Sarah Hirshland, executive director of the USOPC, called the delay in awarding the medals an “outrageous situation.”
“I wish I could tell you that I’m less angry or less frustrated,” Hirshland said recently. “Our No. 1 priority is to make sure our Team USA athletes, who are sitting without their medals, know we haven’t forgotten them.”
It is a complex case, which is even more so due to Valieva’s protected status due to her age. But if she is found to have doped and the decision is upheld through appeals, the entire Russian team could be stripped of their gold; Valieva had the most points in the short program and free skate, which gave her team the maximum number of points in the discipline.
The American team could then be elevated to gold, Japan to silver, and the fourth-placed Canadians to a bronze medal.
“It’s always on our minds,” said Madison Chock, who along with partner Evan Bates performed their freestyle dance in the team competition. “It is what it is. It’s not something that’s in our control right now. We just take those little tidbits that we hear and absorb it and let it go.”
For now, Chok and Bates must leave their thoughts on Beijing. Just like the doubles team of Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, Chock and Bates are focused on competing this weekend at Skate America near Boston. This is the first event of the Grand Prix season, and both partnerships are heavily favored to win their respective events.
However, Chen is taking a year off. So did Olympic teammates Karen Chen and Vincent Zhou, while longtime ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired after the Winter Games.
They may have a little more time to think about the fate of their Olympic team medals.
“I’m glad to have a really great team going through this together,” said Nathan Chen. “We have each other’s backs.”
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