Is another Russian doping scandal around the corner? A Russian skater tested positive for drugs, Forbes reported, after winning the team figure skating event on Monday. The individual was not named, but reportedly tested positive for a banned substance that was “not performance-enhancing.”
The Russian skating team was preparing to receive their gold medals when news of the positive drug test broke, delaying the medal ceremony indefinitely as officials investigate what happened. The U.S. skating team won the silver medal and Japan won the bronze.
Following the 2020 ban that barred the country from the international competition for four years. Though many Russian athletes are still competing, they are banned from displaying their country’s flag, hosting international events, or hearing their national anthem if they win.
While the individual who tested positive was not named, the six-member Russian skating team consisted of Kamila Valieva, 15; Mark Kondratiuk, 18; Anastasia Mishina, 20; Aleksandr Galliamov, 22; Victoria Sinitsina, 26; and Nikita Katsalapov, 30.
15-year-old skating sensation Kamila Valieva landed the first ever quadruple jump by a woman in Olympic history to claim the gold, and she is a heavy favorite going into the solo competition, as well.
If the medal ceremony continues without being canceled entirely, Russia will most likely become disqualified, bumping the United States up to the gold medal. Canada, who placed fourth, would then be eligible for podium placement.
“The situation arose today, on short notice, which requires legal consultation with the [International Skating Union],” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said on Wednesday morning. “Because there are legal implications I can’t really talk about much. It’s kind of an emerging issue.”
The positive drug test also puts Russian skaters and athletes competing for the Russian Olympic Committee under intense scrutiny by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Some athletes who have already won may be packing their bags to head back home. At this time, it’s unknown if anyone else is involved or has tested positive, or if there are even more dire medal results that are under consideration to be overturned.
“You can bet your bottom dollar that we are doing absolutely everything and everyone is doing absolutely everything that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible because we have athletes that have won medals involved,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams continued.
“We are doing our level utmost to do everything we can,” he assured competitors. “As you know, legal issues can sometimes drag on.”
According to The Guardian, four Russian skaters did not attend practice on Wednesday, but it was unclear why they were not present.
Legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova also denied that any of the Russian skaters would dope, stating that, “This cannot be true.”
“We can be pointed fingers at,” Tarasova said, “but we are all clean.”
The previous Russian doping scandal occurred during the Sochi Olympic games in 2014, which implicated hundreds of Russian athletes. The investigation continued through 2020 and into the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, where many Russian athletes may have been continuing to dope.
The investigation revealed not only mass practice of performance-enhancing drugs, but a deep cover-up effort by Russia to manipulate test results and hide the use of banned substances.
Despite the four-year ban, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin still attended the Opening Ceremonies in China last week, cheering on hundreds of Russian athletes still able to compete under a different flag with the same colors.
“The ITA is aware of the various reports circulating regarding the postponed medal ceremony for the figure skating team event at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022,” a statement from the Independent Testing Agency read Wednesday morning. “No such announcement has been published to date.”
The Russian Olympic Committee has yet to respond to the new doping scandal.