Steve Holcomb

Steve Holcomb
AP

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

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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.

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Kaillie Humphries, Elana Meyers Taylor beat men’s Olympian in first international mixed-gender bobsled race

Kaillie Humphries
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Olympic women’s bobsled gold and silver medalists Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor placed sixth and seventh out of 11 sleds in the first international mixed-gender four-man bobsled race Saturday.

The Canadian Humphries and American Meyers Taylor competed in a lower-level North American Cup race in Park City, Utah. Four-man bobsled was declared gender neutral by the International Bobsled Federation starting this season.

U.S. Olympian Nick Cunningham won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 37.57 seconds. Humphries was .84 behind. Meyers Taylor was .88 behind. (full results here)

Humphries and Meyers Taylor were slower than 2010 Olympic champion Steven Holcomb (second place) and the other U.S. sled driven by Codie Bascue (fourth place). (Meyers Taylor had beaten Bascue at U.S. selection races last weekend)

“Not the drive I wanted, but proud of my guys,” was posted on Meyers Taylor’s Twitter account after the race.

Humphries and Meyers Taylor, driving with three men’s push athletes each, beat four bobsleds that had men’s drivers. One of those four men’s sleds was piloted by a Sochi Olympic driver, Brazilian Edson Bindilatti. Bindilatti, 35, finished 29th out of 30 sleds in Sochi and was part of four-man sleds at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics with a best finish of 25th.

The last three men’s sleds were piloted by Canadians with no Olympic driving experience.

Humphries and Meyers Taylor are hoping to compete in four-man bobsled in the top-level World Cup circuit, beginning in December in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Steven Holcomb competed at Olympics with torn Achilles

Steve Holcomb
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That calf strain that Steven Holcomb fought through to win two bronze medals in Sochi was actually a torn Achilles, according to the bobsledder’s social media.

Before the diagnosis, Holcomb said his two- and four-man bobsled teams could have won two silver medals in Sochi if not for his injury.

“Unfortunately, my calf injury held us back,” Holcomb said at the Best of U.S. Awards in Washington last week. “These guys [teammates] rose to the occasion. I couldn’t push quite as hard as I wanted to.”

Holcomb said gold medals, even if healthy, were out of reach because of Russian Aleksandr Zubkov‘s experience on his home-nation track. Zubkov’s sled set track records in winning both the two- and four-man competitions.

Holcomb and his four-man teammates Chris FogtSteven Langton and Curt Tomasevicz haven’t seen too much of each other since Sochi after essentially living together in the previous six months.

Holcomb said he will continue his break until May or June. Tomasevicz, 33 and the only push athlete on both the 2010 and 2014 sleds, has retired.

“There’s going to be 100 second thoughts,” Tomasevicz said last week. “Come September, October, it’s going to be tough sitting around, watching, and not being a part of it. Hopefully, I’ll find something else to occupy my focus.”

The Army Capt. Fogt will go back on active duty in May, heading to Fort Huachuca in Arizona. He expects to spend six months there and then around a year and a half “wherever the Army sends me.” He speculated Germany, Korea or Georgia.

“I’m very, very excited,” said Fogt, who hopes to return to bobsledding before the 2018 Olympics. “After the last [Olympics], I went to Iraq for a year. That was my first love. I joined the Army in 2005 and started bobsledding in 2007. It’s been a great experience. I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity of being a regular Joe and working with soldiers again.”

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