Team USA ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue say they have their “empty medal box waiting in our room,” as they wait to receive their figure skating team event medal which has been postponed without a date in light of Kamila Valieva’s ongoing doping case.
Speaking to CNN’s Coy Wire, Hubbell said they were “disappointed” at being informed at the last minute on February 8 that the medal ceremony would be delayed. The US had finished second behind the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
“We were really looking forward to sharing that Olympic moment together. It’s an incredibly difficult situation for everyone involved, but certainly I don’t think that it’s fair to any of the athletes who medal that we have to forego that Olympic moment … it’s hard to go home empty-handed,” Hubbell said.
Donohue added that he hopes the situation would be solved “as quickly as possible,” both for the athletes and for the integrity of sport.
“We have a whole team of athletes that have finished competing and are staring looking at an empty box and the unknown of the future and missing out on that Olympics moment,” Donohue said.
On Thursday, Valieva finished fourth in the women’s individual skating competition while her teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova won the gold and silver respectively. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto took the bronze.
A week of immense pressure appeared to weigh heavy on Valieva’s young shoulders, as she fell multiple times during her individual routine.
Speaking about the 15-year-old Valieva, Donohue said it was awful that everything she had done to this point would be put into question as a result of her ongoing doping case.
“At the center of this, there’s a 15-year-old girl who’s being robbed of everything she’s worked for this year, everything she’s ever done up to this point is going to be in question. The entire sport is being looked at with question,” he said
“The story isn’t about a young Olympian. It’s about a scandal. And she’s getting swallowed up in that. I think that’s terrible.”
The two ice dancers were among the US skaters that met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach on Wednesday, which Bach described on Friday as “very fruitful.”
Both Hubbell and Donohue said they appreciated meeting Bach to share their perspectives on the Valieva issue.
“We didn’t leave the meeting feeling, I don’t think any better about this situation, but at least you know, we had our chance to kind of say what it feels like to be an athlete in our shoes,” Hubbell said.
Donohue confirmed that they have received Olympic torches from the IOC, which Bach earlier clarified was a “token of appreciation” for an honest meeting, not a consolation for a medal.