Canadian figure skaters wait patiently for verdict on 2022 Olympic team bronze

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MONTREAL — Roman Sadovsky is still waiting to hear an explanation he thinks makes sense.

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The 24-year-old from Vaughan, Ont., was a member of Canada’s team that is appealing the International Skating Union’s decision to award the 2022 Beijing Olympics team figure skating bronze medal to Russia despite one of its skaters being sanctioned for doping.

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“I haven’t spoken to anyone that gave a good reason, so I’m still waiting for that one,” Sadovksy said Wednesday at Bell Centre, the site of the world championships set for March 18 to 24.

“I think we’re all still waiting for a good reason why that decision was made.”

Russia skated to gold in the event in Beijing before it was revealed skater Kamila Valieva had tested positive for a banned heart medicine in a sample obtained before the Games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Jan. 29 that Valieva would be disqualified.

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As a result, the ISU upgraded the United States to gold and Japan to silver. But Russia held on for bronze after the ISU published amended standings that placed the country one point ahead of Canada after removing Valieva’s maximum 10 points from each of her two events.

The federation, however, did not hand out extra points to teams who rose the event standings following Valieva’s disqualification. The Canadians would be one point ahead in third place if those amendments were made.

“We’re disappointed with the decision,” Ice dancer Paul Poirier said. “I don’t think there’s been much justification or processes that have been explained, but that’s why we have the courts and that’s why Skate Canada and the Canadian team are challenging this decision.”

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Skate Canada, along with the Canadian Olympic Committee and the athletes from Canada’s 2022 team, formally appealed the decision in February.

Sadovsky said the Canadian athletes are very focused on clean and safe sport, and called challenging the ISU’s initial ruling “important.”

“When it comes down to it, rules are rules and I feel like we should follow policy,” he said. “And it seems kind of grey with the policy. Doesn’t seem grey to us, but the decision seems really grey.

“(The appeal) is really important for sports and it had to be done.”

Skate Canada’s position is that the ISU did not appropriately apply Rule 353, which states “competitors having finished the competition and who initially placed lower than the disqualified competitor will move up accordingly in their placement.”

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The ISU dismissed that claim, stating its decision was based “on a comprehensive evaluation from legal experts,” that found Rule 353 did not apply because of “applicable rules and principles that are specific” to the Olympic team event.

“We legitimately do not understand the decision that was released in the recent statement by the ISU,” Skate Canada chief executive officer Debra Armstrong said Wednesday.

“We are very well apprised of the rules that relate to the team figure skating event. They were the rules that were applied to the team figure skating event in Beijing, and so we are somewhat confused by the decision that was taken.”

Now that the initial appeal has been registered, Armstrong said Skate Canada is due to file a brief to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the coming days before waiting to see how the process unfolds.

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The appeal comes at the same time Skate Canada gets set to host one of the ISU’s biggest events of the year, but Armstrong says it’s easy to separate the two things.

“We have a very collaborative working relationship with the ISU,” she said. “That matter, unfortunately, we have to agree to disagree. We set it aside, it will be dealt with impartially and fairly and we will accept the findings of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

As much as the Canadian athletes hope they can eventually bring home bronze, they’re not holding their breath.

“It would be crazy if we got it, but it’s been so long at this point that I’m just waiting for it to play out,” said singles skater Madeline Schizas. “It’s not really on my mind. When it gets solved, it’ll get solved.”

“All of us on the team believe that we should be getting bronze,” added Sadovsky. “It’s up to what goes on behind the scenes and what actually happens.”

— With files from The Associated Press

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