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U.S. bobsledders to receive silver medals from Sochi Games

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Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic two- and four-man bobsled teams will receive silver medals after initially finishing third at the Sochi Games, USA Bobsled and Skeleton (USABS) announced today.

The USOC received official notification from the International Olympic Committee that the two-man bobsled team of the late Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton and the four-man bobsled team of Holcomb, Langton, Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz would be awarded silver medals, according to USABS. Russian pilot Aleksandr Zubkov and push athlete Aleksei Voyevoda, who originally won gold in the two- and four-man events in Sochi, were disqualified in 2017 for doping violations after a reanalysis of samples. Due to a series of appeals, medal reallocations were not announced until today.

“We have always believed in competing with integrity and respect for ourselves, our sport and for our competitors,” Fogt, Langton, and Tomasevicz said in a joint statement, according to USABS. “It’s unfortunate that our results were not official in February of 2014 and that we’ve had to endure the long process to see justice finally served…We commend the IOC, WADA, the IBSF and the USOC for their willingness to take a stand for what is right…We encourage them to stand firm and continue their fight against individuals looking to undermine the discipline and dedication of clean athletes.”

Holcomb, a three-time Olympic medalist, piloted the four-man “Night Train” sled to gold in 2010, ending a 62-year gold medal drought for the U.S. in men’s bobsled, before serving as pilot again in 2014. He died unexpectedly in May 2017 at age 37.

“This result appropriately bolsters Holcomb’s legacy as one of the very best athletes to ever drive a bobsled,” Fogt, Langton and Tomasevicz said in their statement. “…he would be smiling knowing that we’re one step closer to a fair playing field.”

The reallocated silver medals will be presented to the athletes and Holcomb’s family in an upcoming ceremony. Details have not yet been announced.

“We are so proud of Steven and all that he accomplished, both on and off the ice,” his mother, Jean Schaefer, said, according to USABS. “We are happy that he and his teammates are to be recognized as the silver medalists, their rightful place. While we wish Steven could accept his silver medals alongside his teammates, our family is honored to accept them on his behalf.”

More Russian doping means Steven Holcomb’s medals will be upgraded

Steve Holcomb
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Steven Holcomb remains a winner of three Olympic medals. He will have held only one of them.

Another round of International Olympic Committee sanctions against Russian athletes who were found to have participated in doping at the 2014 Sochi Games came down Friday, headlined by bobsledder Aleksandr Zubkov being stripped of the gold medals he won in two- and four-man events.

Holcomb, who died in May, will posthumously move up one spot from bronze to silver in each of those races, once the medals are formally reallocated.

“It’s going to be weird for his family and it’s going to be weird for us,” U.S. veteran push athlete Chris Fogt, who was part of Holcomb’s four-man team in Sochi, said after the IOC decision Friday. “I’d like to think that we would be all together when it happens. And when we get those medals, we’re not going to have him there.”

A half-dozen U.S. bobsled and skeleton athletes are going to benefit from the Russian medalist disqualifications.

Skeleton racer Matt Antoine and bobsledders Holcomb, Fogt, Steven Langton and Curt Tomasevicz all left Sochi with bronzes and will be getting silvers. Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender will be getting her first medal, with her finish upgraded from fourth to bronze. And combined, they’ll be collecting a total of $45,000 in additional bonus money from the U.S. Olympic Committee, which rewards medal performances.

MORE: A look at the Russians stripped of Olympic medals from Sochi

Now comes a delicate matter, with Holcomb’s family likely having to surrender his bronzes and await the exchange for the silvers. Holcomb’s father and one of his sisters wore the bronze medals at his memorial service in May in Lake Placid, New York.

“It’s definitely a little bittersweet that Holcomb isn’t here to see this happening,” said Langton, who was with Holcomb for the two-man medal-winning ride in Sochi and was also in the four-man sled with Holcomb, Fogt and Tomasevicz. “He worked hard and he earned those medals. It would have been very nice if he had the chance to enjoy them.”

Zubkov has been at World Cup races this season as president of the Russian bobsled federation. Unless the ruling is overturned on appeal, he won’t be at the Pyeongchang Olympics this winter, or any other Olympics. The IOC says sanctions against him – and other athletes found to have doped – include lifetime banishment from the games.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation provisionally suspended Russian skeleton athletes Aleksandr Tretiakov and Elena Nikitina from World Cup events – both won medals in Sochi that were stripped this week. It’s likely that a similar ban could be issued to the bobsledders involved in Friday’s IOC ruling, including Zubkov.

“It’s important to be able to move forward,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also an executive with the IBSF. “No doubt about it.”

Pending the IBSF changing results as the IOC has asked, the two-man gold medal will now almost certainly go to Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann of Switzerland. The four-man gold medal would go to the Latvian sled driven by Oskars Melbardis and pushed by Arvis Vilkaste, Daumants Dreiskens and Janis Strenga.

Holcomb’s sleds would get the silver in both races. Russia would get the bronze in both, with driver Alexander Kasjanov – who had a pair of fourth-place showings in Sochi – set for the upgrade. Neither Kasjanov nor any member of his team has been sanctioned by the IOC in relation to the doping scandal.

Langton said he’s pleased that the process, which sliding athletes from countless countries have been monitoring in anticipation of the disqualifications, is finally nearing an end.

“I had faith that the people handling it would handle it appropriately,” Langton said.

Thomas Bach warns critics ahead of Russia decision

Bobsled Olympic medalist Steve Langton retires

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Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.

A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.

At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”

“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.

Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.

“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”

Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.

None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.