Vincent Zhou is an American Olympic figure skater who competed at the Beijing 2022 Games in the team figure skating event.
The team, led by gold medalist Nathan Chen, performed very well and won the silver medal, finishing behind the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
The ROC team featured then 15-year-old Kamila Valieva. In December 2021, she submitted a routine urine sample after her win in the Russian Nationals on December 24. On February 8, 2022 the sample tested positive for traces of trimetazidine, a heart medication that is banned from competition. The team event finished the day before.
This week Zhou shared an open letter calling out global anti-doping authorities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for “failing athletes,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
“The IOC assured us that they would do their utmost to make sure it was resolved as quickly as possible,” Zhou stated in his letter. He noted it has been nearly 600 days since the team event and the Americans have yet to receive their silver medals.
A hearing for Valieva is finally underway at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. The hearing will include the IOC, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). There is no timeline for how long the hearing will take or when a decision regarding Valieva will be rendered.
Zhou isn’t optimistic any justice will come from the hearing.
“The idea that such a hearing will serve the interests of clean athletes in absurd,” he wrote. The RUSADA has been facilitating Russian doping for over a decade.”
“We have no reason to believe our interests are being adequately represented.”
The IOC understands Zhou and his team’s frustration, but insists their hands are tied.
“We want competition results to be final at Games so that athletes can enjoy the glory of the moment during the Games,” an IOC spokesperson wrote to the Bay Area News Group. “This is why the IOC is also very frustrated about the current situation. But the IOC does not stand above the law and has to respect the law and the rights of every individual as well as respective court decisions. From the outset, the IOC has been pushing for a swift decision and hopes that after this hearing the CAS decision will follow quickly. The IOC will then implement the decision.
“As a reminder, the IOC appealed to the CAS following the decision of the RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee to lift the provisional suspension of Ms. Valieva. This appeal was joined by WADA and the International Skating Union. The appeal was dismissed, and this is why the athlete was allowed to compete in the Women’s Single Skating competition.”
All Russian athletes at Beijing 2022 were forced to compete under the Olympic flag due to previous doping sanctions.
Whether Zhou and his teammates won silver or gold in Beijing 2022, they just want justice and something to put around their neck.
“As my team’s empty medal boxes show, the global anti-doping system is failing athletes,” his letter said. “Justice delayed is justice denied. My teammates and I will never get back the chance to stand before the world to celebrate a lifetime’s worth of hard work culminating in a career-defining achievement. Sponsors love medals.”