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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. ISU gives Beijing Team Event medals to U.S., Japan and Russia
2. ISU’s re-scoring appears to have ignored its own rules
3. Chock and Bates thrilled with gold, hope for medals in Paris!
4. Milan Cortina 2026 sliding track to be in Cortina (maybe)
5. French police promised up to €1,900 in Olympic bonuses
● The International Skating Union declared Tuesday that with the disqualification of Russian skater Kamila Valieva for doping, the U.S. is the gold medalist in the figure skating Team Event at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. Japan was moved up to silver, but Russia was curiously given the bronze over Canada.
● A look at the ISU’s own rules on the scoring of disqualifications indicates that the federation ignored its own Rule 353, which states that in the case of disqualifications, the placers behind the disqualified athlete should be moved up. This was not done and Canada is preparing to appeal.
● U.S. skaters Madison Chock and Evan Bates spoke with reporters on Tuesday and Chock said her dream would be to receive the Team Event gold medals during the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee chief exec Sarah Hirshland hinted at something earlier and with the U.S. team alone. Bates spoke of the decision as a victory for clean athletes.
● The board of the Milan Cortina 2026 organizing committee approved the building of a new sliding track in Cortina by the Italian government, but will continue to plan for an out-of-country solution if the project is not completed by March of 2025.
● The French Interior Ministry announced bonus payments for police serving extra time during the Olympic period this summer, after protests demanding added pay during the summer, when many would be on vacation.
● Panorama: International Olympic Committee (Bach says Esports Games in 2025 or 2026) = Russia (2: Valieva get almost 50,000 comments in 30 minutes on Monday post; Russian Embassy in D.C. says U.S. using sport as part of war against Russia) = Alpine Skiing (Gut-Behrami wins fifth this season in Kronplatz) = Aquatics (Doha Worlds entries largest ever) = Athletics (world leads for Nader, Klaver, Hailu in Ostrava) = Tennis (Hsieh wins twice in Doubles at Australian Open) ●
ISU gives Beijing Team Event medals to U.S., Japan and Russia
The International Skating Union did not wait for its 7 February Council meeting, but posted a notice on Tuesday that re-scored the Team Event from the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and showed the United States as the winner, followed by Japan and the Russian Olympic Committee:
● 1. 65, United States
● 2. 63, Japan
● 3. 54, Russia
● 4. 53, Canada
The change from the original scoring, which had Russia with 74 points as the winner, was simply to remove the 20 points scored by Kamila Valieva – confirmed to have committed a doping violation and now suspended during the time of the 2022 Winter Games by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday – and not to change the scoring of any of the other places in either the women’s Short Program or Free Skate.
This leaves Canada in fourth place and China (50) in fifth, and Valieva was disqualified from her fourth-place finish in the women’s Singles competition.
Further, Valieva’s win at the European Championships in January of 2022 in Estonia was also vaporized, with Russian Anna Shcherbakova advanced to first place, ahead of teammate Alexandra Trusova and Belgian Loena Hendrickx.
The ISU statement also noted:
“The ISU welcomes the decision of CAS and firmly maintains its position that the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping are of the highest priority and will persist in the ongoing effort to uphold the integrity of fair competition and the well-being of athletes.
“The ISU is in close contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the relevant ISU Member Federations in regard to the implementation of this decision.”
The statement does not reference any need for confirmation of this action by the ISU Council at its 7 February meeting, and the statement in unsigned.
It should be noted that the CAS decision from Monday can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on narrow procedural grounds, and any such appeal is unlikely to overturn the finding against Valieva. But it may delay the ultimate confirmation of the final results of the Team Event, which concluded on 7 February 2022.
ISU’s re-scoring appears to have ignored its own rules
The International Skating Union’s Tuesday announcement of re-stated results for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games Team Event was odd in that it removed only the points scored by Russian star Valieva and did not change any other scores in the women’s Short Program or Free Skate.
The ISU statement referred to Article 10.10 of the ISU Anti-Doping Rules, which speaks directly to disqualifications of competitors in events subsequent to a doping violation, notes that:
“[A]ll other competitive results of the Skater obtained from the date a positive Sample was collected … or other antidoping rule violation occurred, through the commencement of any Provisional Suspension or Ineligibility period, shall, unless fairness requires otherwise, be Disqualified with all of the resulting Consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.”
Under this section, Valieva was quite rightly disqualified and her points removed from the team scoring total (74-20 = 54). However, a deeper look at the rules makes things muddier.
● Rule 11.2.2 of the ISU Anti-Doping Rules is in a section titled “Consequences to Teams” and states:
“An anti-doping rule violation committed by a member of a team, including substitutes, occurring during or in connection with an Event may lead to Disqualification of all of the results obtained by the team in that Event with all Consequences for the team and its members, including forfeiture of all medals, points and prizes, except as provided in Article 11.2.3.”
The key phrase here is “in connection with an Event,” which in the Valieva case would indicate that her doping positive, revealed literally minutes after the Team Event finished on 7 February 2022, would appear to apply here. If so, the entire Russian team should be disqualified.
(The exception in 11.2.3 does not apply, since it lets a team continue without disqualification only if that team was not otherwise affected by the doping violation. Russia was most certainly impacted, since it would have won with a substitute for Valieva.)
● Even more important is Rule 353 of the ISU’s “Special Regulations for Technical Rules for Singles, Pairs and Ice Dance.”
In section 4, titled “Publication of Results,” the text is clear about scoring for disqualified competitors:
“Disqualified Competitors will lose their placements and be officially noted in the intermediate and final results as disqualified (DSQ). Competitors having finished the competition and who initially placed lower than the disqualified Competitor(s) will move up accordingly in their placement(s).”
This rule was in effect at the time of the Beijing Winter Games and clearly indicates that not only should Valieva’s points been deducted, but that other teams were affected:
● In the Short Program, Valieva won (10 points), but now all nine others should be advanced one place and have one point added to their totals.
● Same in the Free Skate, where Valieva won again, but the nine following skaters should all receive one more point.
This would make the final scores:
● 1. 67, United States (up from 65)
● 2. 65, Japan (up from 63)
● 3. 55, Canada (up from 53)
● 4. 54, Russia (down from 74)
● 5. 52, China (up from 50)
Canada should be the bronze-medal winner by reference to the ISU’s figure skating rules for scoring of disqualified athletes.
Have no doubt that a challenge to the ISU’s scoring – unless corrected – will come from Skate Canada on behalf of its team. The federation said so on Tuesday:
“Skate Canada is extremely disappointed with the International Skating Union’s (ISU) position on the long-awaited awarding of medals for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games Figure Skating Team Competition.
“The Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that in addition to a four-year ban from competition, the ban includes ‘the disqualification [of] all competitive results’ achieved by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva since the positive test. The ISU in its recent decision is not applying Rule 353, which states that ‘competitors having finished the competition and who initially placed lower than the disqualified competitor will move up accordingly in their placement.’
“Skate Canada strongly disagrees with the ISU’s position on this matter and will consider all options to appeal this decision.”
And Russia is planning a new appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Russian Olympic Committee declared Tuesday:
“Our lawyers have already begun preparing the necessary documents for filing an appeal.
“We proceed from the fact that, in accordance with the current, applicable ISU rules, the consequences of the decision on sanctions in relation to an individual athlete, in this case Kamila Valieva, cannot be a basis for reviewing the results of a team tournament. Our legal position is based, among other things, on existing precedents in CAS practice.”
Noting Rule 353 cited above, this appears to be fantasy, but appeals can be filed.
The Russian news agency TASS quoted a statement from the International Olympic Committee, which apparently considers the matter over:
“The IOC welcomes the fact that the CAS decision brings clarity to this matter so that the athletes competing in the team figure skating event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics can finally receive the medals they have been waiting for.
“The IOC can now award medals in accordance with the final standings, which shall be established by the International Skating Union. The IOC will contact the relevant National Olympic Committees to organize a dignified medal ceremony.”
Chock and Bates thrilled with gold, hope for medals in Paris!
“Yes, we have thought about it. When all of this initially happened, the first thing that came to everyone’s mind was, wow, we would love to have a true Olympic medal ceremony.
“And so, for us, that would be a medal ceremony at the Paris Games this summer. That would be the dream scenario and be able to stand atop the podium at an Olympic event and be there with our families, and just to celebrate and be surrounded by the Olympic spirit and the Olympic Movement would be our dream scenario.”
That’s U.S. Ice Dance star Madison Chock, now a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning team from the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, from a Tuesday news conference reacting to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision that disqualified Russia’s Kamila Valieva for doping, and if she had considered what a proper medal ceremony would look like.
Chock, who just won her fifth national Ice Dance title with Evan Bates – despite illness – expressed the whirlwind of the past day:
“It’s just a feeling I’ve always dreamed of and one I almost can’t believe is here. I’m still wrapping my head around the reality of everything. It’s just been a very happy 24 hours of news for us.”
“It’s been quite a surreal experience. It’s been a long – almost two years now – wait for this decision to come through. We’re pleased and we’re here on behalf of the other seven skaters who we’ve bonded so tightly with through this experience. …
“We really, up until the night before, had no idea how this was going to turn out, and it’s just been an unbelievable 24 hours.”
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee chief executive Sarah Hirshland explained that exactly how a medal ceremony will be done is up in the air:
“I don’t think that it is necessarily mandatory that all of the medals be awarded in the same place at the same time. So we are going to consider all the possibilities, both what will be logistically the best option for Team USA to be together with the people who are most important to them in that celebration. It doesn’t have to be a ceremony with all three of the gold-silver-bronze awarded at the same time.
“So, we’ve got a bit of flexibility to think about what’s going to be best for Team USA independent of what may be best for Japan and ultimately ROC or Canada or however that ends up playing out.
“But our goal and our focus is on Team USA and we know we have some flexibility and latitude to focus on this team independently.”
Ignoring the possible appeals that may be out there, Hirshland said it would be better to do a ceremony sooner rather than later:
“The short answer is, regardless, there is no scenario at this point in which Team USA is not the gold-medal winner, and so we’re focused on getting those gold medals awarded to Team USA and even in my conversations with the IOC last night, they are as eager as we are, and the no. 1 priority is to allow the team to really weigh in and ensure that they have the opportunity to help us craft what that celebration should look like.
“But everybody has a sense of urgency, and there’s no reason for any delay.”
Bates took special notice of what the CAS holding meant in terms of penalizing those who are doping:
“We feel very grateful that case has had due process and has reached this conclusion here, or maybe not a conclusion, but this finding, and I think there are so many clean athletes who historically not had their moment, have not had the recognition that they deserve, whether that’s because those doping didn’t get caught or because the case didn’t come to trial or what have you.
“I mean there are countless athletes in history, through the decades, that have not had the moments that we have just now had, so we’re extremely happy, we’re extremely pleased and we’re just really focusing on that, celebrating the achievement. …
“For clean athletes, for the legacy of clean sport, the integrity of the Olympic Movement, I think this is, I think, a landmark case. It’s a monumental thing. This is an unprecedented event, where 20-something clean athletes left the Olympic Games without a medal that they won – cleanly – and yesterday, in large part, the finding by CAS brought some justice to the clean-sport movement, and I think clean athletes around the world will find some joy and some solace in knowing that clean sport matters, and the fight against doping is ongoing.”
Milan Cortina 2026 sliding track to be in Cortina (maybe)
The Fondazione Milano Cortina 2026 board agreed Tuesday to go forward – if possible – with the construction of a new track on Cortina, to replace the historic Eugenio Monti track used for the 1956 Olympic Winter Games.
But it will be ready with an alternative in case of difficulties:
● “The Board of Directors of the Milano Cortina 2026 Foundation, which met today, listened to the report of the President Giovanni Malagó and the CEO, Andrea Varnier, and expressed optimism on the issue of the sliding center in Cortina d’Ampezzo, waiting for SIMICO (Società Infrastrutture Milano Cortina 2026 SpA) to sign the contract with the contracting company.”
● “[T]he Board of Directors itself, given the negative opinions received from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Federations, concerned by the tight deadlines that the work imposes, and also by virtue of SIMICO’s communication of last 01/03/2024 with which it was recommended to keep any alternative solutions open, decided not to interrupt the dialogue with the other existing and functioning plants, giving the CEO a mandate to continue the work of negotiating a possible plan B which, also in this case, will require a extra budget.”
Time and money are at issue. The building of the new track has been plagued with issues, and not one construction bid was received last summer for the project. The program was reduced a little and a bid for the now €81.6 million project (~$88.50 million U.S.) was received from the Parma-based Impresa Pizzarotti & C., a well-respected firm.
But the Tuesday statement by the Milan Cortina board also noted that more money will be needed to complete the project and that “the Milano Cortina 2026 Foundation will initiate discussions with the competent institutions.” The Milan Cortina 2026 sponsorship efforts are now on track to reach their budgeted goals, but the sales effort has proved difficult.
The clock will be ticking, with the project facing a set, acknowledged deadline:
“The Organizing Committee of the Milan Cortina 2026 Games is in continuous contact with the IOC and the International Federations and reiterates that the pre-homologation tests cannot for any reason take place beyond the month of March 2025.”
That’s 13 months from now. The tug-of-war over the sliding venue has become a political issue inside Italy, with minister demanding that money not be sent out of the country to support the 2026 Winter Games. Proposals from Austria (Innsbruck), Germany (Koenigssee), Switzerland (St. Moritz) and the U.S. (Lake Placid) were all sent to the 2026 organizers and, apparently, the talks will continue.
French police promised up to €1,900 in Olympic bonuses
After multiple protests by police units over working hours and the expected longer shifts coming during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the French Interior Ministry announced Tuesday that bonuses of up to €1,900 (~$2,060 U.S.) will be available.
Officers taking less than normal leave during the Olympic and Paralympic period in June, July, August and September, will receive a €1,000 bonus ($1,084 U.S.) with as much as €1,600 ($1,735) for those assigned to Olympic areas. Paris-area and airport officers will receive €300 ($325).
Other public-sector unions, in the medical and transit sectors, are also pushing for extra pay to stay on the job during the two Games, periods which are usually taken for vacations.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● International Olympic Committee ● Speaking to reporters at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Korea, IOC President Thomas Bach (GER) said the Olympic Esports Games is coming soon:
“I guess we could count on the first edition, offer such an Olympic Esports Games for the year 2025, or the latest 2026.”
● Russia ● Considerable sympathy for 17-year-old Kamila Valieva, who posted a skating video of herself on the ice in a red dress on Monday after being disqualified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for doping in 2021.
The post, on Telegram, received more than 49,900 visits in the first 30 minutes!
Another post on Telegram, in Russian, was from the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.:
“We have paid attention to the atmosphere of gloating in local journalistic and sporting circles about the Russophobic decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to disqualify our figure skater Kamila Valieva for 4 years and deprive her of her awards for allegedly using doping.
“All this fits into the framework of the hybrid war unleashed by the West against the Russian Federation. Local authorities are not a stranger to outright pressure on sports structures in order to prevent the appearance of highly competitive Russian athletes at competitions, especially under the Russian tricolor. In parallel, they are trying to disrupt a number of major events in our country, including the Games of the Future, the BRICS Sports Games and the World Friendship Games.
“America is clearly annoyed that new formats – beyond the control of the Westerners – are attracting growing interest from countries in the Global South, tired of the politicization of high-performance sports.”
● Alpine Skiing ● Swiss star Lara Gut-Behrami continued her hot streak with another win in the Giant Slalom, this time in Kronplatz (ITA), taking control on the first run.
The Olympic Super-G champ from 2022 flew to an 0.59 edge on the first run over New Zealand’s Alice Robinson, 1:00.48 to 1:01.07, and then extended her lead on the second run with the third-fastest time, ending with a total of 2:00.64. It’s her 42nd career win on the FIS World Cup circuit.
Robinson was only 10th-fastest on the second run and ended up in a tie for second (2:01.73) with Swede Sara Hector, the Olympic Giant Slalom winner in Beijing.
Gut-Behrami, 32, has won five races this season: three Giant Slaloms and two Super-G and is now within 95 points of the seasonal lead, as Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. recovers from injuries.
● Aquatics ● The registration totals for the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (QAT) that start on Friday (2nd) show the largest event on record, with 2,603 athletes from 197 countries.
SwimSwam.com noted that, if that many athletes show, it will be the first Worlds with more than 2,500 entries, topping the 2,438 for Rome (ITA) in 2009 and 2,418 at Gwangju (KOR) in 2019. The 197 countries would top the 191 at Fukuoka (JPN) last year.
Olympic qualifying will not be on the line in swimming, but spots will be open in artistic swimming, diving, open-water swimming and water polo.
● Athletics ● Spirited running in Ostrava (CZE) at the Czech Indoor Gala, a World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meet on Tuesday, with a world lead from Isaac Nader of Portugal in the men’s 1,500 m of 3:34.23.
Nader beat Swede Samuel Pihlstrom (3:35.47) for one of three world-leading marks. Dutch 400 m star Lieke Klaver, the 2022 Worlds fourth-placer, won at 50.54, best this season, and 2023 World Road Mile runner-up Freweyni Hailu (ETH) took the lead in the women’s mile by winning in 4:17.36, well ahead of countrywoman Hirut Meshesha (4:19.53), the 2022 World Indoor 1,500 bronze winner.
Hailu moved to no. 6 on the all-time indoor performers (and performances) list and passed 1,500 m in 4:01.03, also the fastest for 2024.
In addition, Olympic men’s long jump champ Miltiadis Tentoglu (GRE) won at 8.09 m (26-6 1/2), and Poland’s Ewa Swoboda, already the women’s world leader at 60 m (7.04), won in 7.07.
● Tennis ● Plenty of coverage of the Australian Open wins for Jannik Sinner (ITA) in the men’s final and Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) for the women, but not much about the Doubles finals.
Mixed-nationality teams won all three divisions, with Rohan Bopanna (IND) and Matthew Ebden (AUS) taking the men’s title over Italy’s Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori, 7–6 (7–0), 7–5, and Su-wei Hsieh (TPE) and Elise Mertens (BEL) winning by 6-1, 7-5 against Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR) and Jelena Ostapenko (LAT).
The Mixed Doubles saw Hsieh collect a second win in Melbourne, this time partnered with Jan Zielinski (POL) and beating Desirae Krawczyk (USA) and Neal Skupski (GBR) 6–7 (5–7), 6–4, [11–9]. Hsieh’s wins gave her eight major titles in Doubles: her two at the Australian, two French Open wins and four at Wimbledon.
For our new, 920-event International Sports Calendar for 2024 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!