(The Hill) — U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday that it is “frankly, unfair to the athletes” for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be withholding medals to the U.S. figure skaters due to decisions made in the doping case around Russian skater Kamila Valieva.
The United States figure skaters placed second in the team competition at the Olympics, but the committee is holding off on awarding medals until the doping case around Valieva, who skated for the first-place finishing Russian delegation, is resolved.
Valieva tested positive for the banned drug trimetazinine, but a ruling from The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is allowing her to continue competing while officials continue to investigate her case.
“My job is to do what’s best for Team USA and those in our country,” Hirshland told the news wire. “And the IOC has 205 other countries … and 55 international federations who have their own agendas. And so, we’re going to have areas where we don’t see exactly the same.”
Hirshland said the American figure skaters wanted to be able to come home with medals. People familiar with the situation told the AP that the American skaters were given Olympic torches in lieu of medals by IOC President Thomas Bach in the meantime.
“There’s no question that our team wants to go home with the medals in their hands,” Hirshland told the news outlet. “That’s just a reality we’re all dealing with right now.”
The development comes as the ruling to allow Valieva to continue to compete while her case is being further investigated has sparked frustration from others, including sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, who tested positive for marijuana and was unable to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics afterward.
“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines?” Richardson tweeted. “My mother died and I can’t run and was also favored to place top 3. The only difference I see is I’m a black young lady.”
The Hill has reached out to the IOC for comment.