ZHANGJIAKOU – IOC president Thomas Bach offered U.S. figure skaters Olympic torches as holdover gifts while they await a resolution of the Russian doping case that is preventing them from receiving their silver medals, The Associated Press has learned.
Two people familiar with the events told the AP late Wednesday that Bach, in a private meeting with the skaters in Beijing that lasted about two hours, reiterated the IOC stance that no medal ceremonies would be held for events involving Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was confidential.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee released a statement confirming the meeting between Bach and the skaters had taken place, "however the details and content of that discussion should remain between them.”
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams repeated the USOPC's statement at his daily briefing Thursday in Beijing and said he wouldn't comment further.
Men's champion Nathan Chen and his U.S. teammates finished runner-up to the Russians in the team event last week, but the outcome was quickly thrown into chaos when reports surfaced that Valieva had used a banned medication.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Valieva was still eligible to compete in this week's women's event while her case wound through the anti-doping system. That case will ultimately determine the status of the medals. Valieva led the women's contest after the short program.
The nine-person U.S. team stands to at least get silver but could end up with the gold if Valieva is disqualified. The skaters had already received boxes for storing their medals when they learned the ceremony was off.
The people familiar with the meeting said torches used during the traditional Olympic flame relay had already been given to team staff to be presented later to the athletes.
After the CAS decision, USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said the federation was “disappointed by the message this decision sends” and suggested athletes were denied the confidence of knowing they competed on a level playing field.
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