Russian skier stripped of gold medal, banned from Olympics vows to fight

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Alexander Legkov, the cross-country skier stripped of his Sochi gold and silver medals and banned for life from the Olympics last week in Russia’s doping probe, said he will fight that decision in a 781-word Instagram post on Monday.

Legkov, the only Russian skier to win Olympic gold in Sochi, posted an image of himself holding his Sochi gold and silver medals with the text. He posted it in Russian, then in a second post in English.

Russian media reported the statement was first posted on the website of Legkov’s lawyer on Saturday.

He wrote that his stripped Olympic 50km cross-country gold medal “is clean.”

The text read:

It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel.

A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain.

For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you’ve done and you know what I’ve done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating.

In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race.

Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals.

The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called “cocktail”, I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called “cocktail” was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary designer drug. The substances were part of the standard test routine. If I had tried to use the cocktail, I would have been discovered.

Until today no witness statement is shown to me or my lawyer in which a person claims that he or she offered performing enhancing drugs to me or claims that he or she took from me in an irregular manner clean urine. Not even Prof McLaren claimed that about an individual athlete.

Instead, I’ve been punished.

IOC ordered a forensic expert but they did not follow him. They decided in contrast to him and in contrast to Prof Mclaren. My lawyer demanded for DNA analysis for 10 months and they missed to conduct it for me and all the other athletes. We were at Court of Arbitration and they ruled the facts meet not the standard of comfortable satisfaction which is required for a sanction – and IOC said it doesn’t matter and sanctioned me.

Every athlete knows how hard it is to explain day by day where you are in whereabout and to be visited nearly any time of a day and night by an Doping Control Officer, for me more than 150 times. They are discussing to chip us or using GPS.

I want to ask myself, my teammates, my opponents and all the other athletes: if this does not prove anything and does not protect us from a diffuse suspicion, why do we do this?

We are all forced to submit to a sanction procedure from which none of us can be sure that it is fair and free of other interests. Every athlete no matter of which nation can come in the same situation.

The only thing what I want is to be treated fairly, to have independent arbitrators within a fair procedure ruled by law. Either at Court of Arbitration for Sport, or at Swiss Federal Court or the European High Court.

Instead, they sanctioned me.

I am Alexander Gennadjewitsch Legkov, Cross Country Skier, Winner of the Gold Medal in 50km mass start at Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi and my medal is clean. I stand upright and fight.

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It took me a long time to find words to describe what I feel. A few days ago, the IOC Oswald Disciplinary Commission decided to take away my medals, which I had won in Sochi 2014, and to impose on me and my teammate Evgeniy Belov a lifelong ban from the Olympic Games. The last few days I said nothing to media, my fans and all the other athletes because I was shocked – not only because of the decision on the matter, but also because of the circumstances. I do not want to apologize and I do not want to defend myself, but explain. For 20 years, I have been arranging all of this to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Every athlete has this dream. We all, my opponents from all over the world and I, we worked hard every day. Year after year we met. We have measured ourselves in many competitions and in many training camps during the year. I know what you've done and you know what I've done. I was happy that I had your respect and you have my respect. This respect forbids you from cheating. In recent years I have been tested more than 150 times clean. Not tested in Moscow or Sochi because I was abroad, but in Cologne, Lausanne and Dresden. 2013 I won the Tour de Ski and was tested clean. On 20 March 2013 I won the 50km mass start race in Oslo and we had the same finish there as in Sochi 2014 and I was then tested clean in Europe. I know and my opponents know that I can win a clean race, and I know that they can win a clean race. Since 2011, I have been preparing myself with a team of coaches from Switzerland and Germany. I am very grateful that they supported me and still trust me. Only with their support could I reach my goals. The years before 2014 I spent most of a year with you in Switzerland and in Europe. In Moscow, where my home is, I only spent a short time on visits. All my opponents and teammates know that. In the months before Sochi, the time when the IOC accused me of having prepared myself with the so-called "cocktail", I remained without interruption in Europe, not in Russia, and was tested 19 times again closely, in Lausanne, Cologne and Dresden. All substances from which the so-called "cocktail" was developed are known. It was not an extraordinary 👇

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Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier win U.S. figure skating pairs’ title in possible final nationals

Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier
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Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier haven’t decided if they’ll compete beyond this season, so Saturday may have been their farewell to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

If so, they went out as dominant winners, the first pair in their 30s to win nationals in more than 50 years.

Knierim, 31, and Frazier, 30, took their second U.S. title together, totaling 227.97 points to prevail by 31.11 over Emily Chan and Spencer Howe. They led by a gaping 15.1 points after Thursday’s short.

Knierim and Frazier were solid after errors on their opening jumping combination in Saturday’s free skate. They broke their own pairs’ margin of victory record from the 2021 U.S. Championships under a scoring system implemented in 2006. Knierim appeared to wipe away tears backstage.

“As I get older, the longer I’m in this sport, the more gratitude I have for it,” Knierim, the oldest woman to win a U.S. figure skating title since 1995 (Renée Roca), said on USA Network. “After that music ended, I’m just thankful that Brandon’s by my side and I’m able to do what I love.”

Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea bagged bronze to likely round out the three-pair team for March’s world championships.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Knierim and Frazier considered retiring after last season, after they missed nationals due to Frazier’s COVID-19, petitioned onto the Olympic team and posted the best Olympic finish for a U.S. pair (sixth) in 20 years.

They then became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979, beating a field that didn’t include any of the top five from the Olympics.

They returned in part to compete as world champions and rank second in the world this season (during which the top Olympic pairs also haven’t competed). They will likely go into March’s worlds in Japan as underdogs to Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, who won their lone head-to-head this past fall at the Grand Prix Final.

Back in October, Knierim said this will probably be their last season competing together, though the pair also thought they were done last spring. They don’t expect to make a final decision until after a Stars on Ice tour this spring.

“This U.S. Championships for us was extra special because you’re just reflecting on the journey, and you know that there’s a good chance that this will be your last one,” Frazier said.

Knierim won her fifth U.S. title, tying the record for a pairs’ skater since World War II, joining Kyoka InaTai BabiloniaRandy GardnerKarol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy. Knierim’s first three titles, and her first Olympics in 2018, were with husband Chris, who retired in 2020.

Silver medalists Chan and Howe continued their recent surge. After placing fourth at last season’s nationals, they rank sixth in the world this season. That’s despite summer injuries that left them unable to practice lifts (his shoulder) and throws (her foot) for a while.

Kam, 18, and O’Shea, 31, made the podium four months after becoming a pair and less than two months after a car Kim was riding in was hit by a drunk driver while crossing an intersection. The car was totaled, but Kim and O’Shea still competed days later in Croatia.

O’Shea won the 2016 U.S. title with Tarah Kayne, retired after they split in late 2020, then came back in 2021 with Chelsea Liu. They ranked sixth in the U.S. going into 2022 Nationals, but withdrew beforehand due to concussions both suffered in a November competition fall, according to Figure Skaters Online.

NBC Sports’ Sarah Hughes (not the figure skater) contributed to this report.

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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships scores, results

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Full scores and results from the 2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose …

Women
Gold: Isabeau Levito — 223.33
Silver: Bradie Tennell — 213.12
Bronze: Amber Glenn — 207.44
4. Starr Andrews — 188.24
5. Josephine Lee — 187.68
6. Lindsay Thorngren — 187.19
7. Clare Seo — 175.60
8. Gracie Gold — 173.98
9. Ava Ziegler — 167.70
10. Sonja Hilmer — 166.49
11. Gabriella Izzo — 166.40
12. Ting Cui — 161.27
13. Audrey Shin — 161.12
14. Lindsay Wang — 154.91
15. Michelle Lee — 145.28
16. Elsa Cheng — 138.13
17. Alexa Gasparotto — 129.41
WD. Hanna Harrell

Men’s Short Program
1. Ilia Malinin — 110.36
2. Jason Brown — 100.25
3. Tomoki Hiwatashi — 85.43
4. Liam Kapeikis — 82.27
5. Andrew Torgashev — 78.78
6. Maxim Naumov — 77.71
7. Jimmy Ma — 73.88
8. Goku Endo — 73.45
9. Samuel Mindra — 71.36
10. Yaroslav Paniot — 70.87
11. Camden Pulkinen — 69.47
12. Matthew Nielsen — 67.98
13. Joonsoo Kim — 67.45
14. Daniel Martynov — 64.04
15. Will Annis — 63.46
16. Dinh Tran — 60.63
17. Mitchell Friess — 59.14
18. Joseph Klein — 58.38

Pairs
Gold: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier — 227.97
Silver: Emily Chan/Spencer Howe — 196.86

Bronze: Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea — 184.01
4. Sonia Baram/Danil Tioumentsev —- 179.08
5. Valentina Plazas/Maximiliano Fernandez — 176.34
6. Katie McBeath/Nathan Bartholomay —- 172.74
7. Maria Mokhova/Ivan Mokhov —- 148.84
8. Nica Digerness/Mark Sadusky — 137.98
9. Grace Hanns / Danny Neudecker — 135.30
10. Nina Ouellette/Rique Newby-Estrella — 132.07
11. Linzy Fitzpatrick/Keyton Bearinger — 129.80

Ice Dance
Gold: Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 229.75
Silver: Caroline Green/Michael Parsons — 207.46
Bronze: Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko — 198.45
4. Emilea Zingas/Vadym Kolesnik — 198.13
5. Emily Bratti/Ian Somerville — 189.84
6. Lorraine McNamara/Anton Spiridonov — 189.15
7. Katarina Wolfkostin/Jeffrey Chen — 183.05
8. Eva Pate/Logan Bye — 182.61
9. Oona Brown/Gage Brown — 181.89
10. Isabella Flores/Ivan Desyatov — 177.31
11. Angela Ling/Caleb Wein — 167.87
12. Leah Krauskopf/YuanShi Jin — 133.93
13. Cara Murphy/Joshua Levitt — 129.85
14. Caroline Depietri/TJ Carey — 123.40
WD. Raffaella Koncius/Alexey Shchepetov

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | New Era for U.S.

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