March 1st, 2024

History of Canadian Olympic medal upgrades

By The Canadian Press on January 30, 2024.

Canada will not benefit from a medal upgrade despite the disqualification of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva from the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the Russian figure skating team, which originally won gold in the Beijing team event, would instead receive the bronze medal following Valieva being ruled ineligible due to a doping case.

Canada, which finished fourth, was in line to move up to the podium but the Russian point tally only dropped from 74 to 54, edging the Canadians by one.

Here’s a list of times Olympic medal upgrades notably fell in Canada’s favour:

1912 Stockholm: Frank Lukeman, bronze – pentathlon

American Jim Thorpe won gold but had previously played minor league baseball, which should have disqualified him from the Games. Lukeman earned bronze in the medal reallocation.

Innsbruck 1964: Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell, silver – figure skating

Wilkes and Revell won figure skating pairs bronze, but were upgraded to silver because Germans silver Marika Kilius and Hans-Jurgen Baumler had previously signed a professional contract. Wilkes and Revell received the silver medals in 1966.

Barcelona 1992: Sylvie Fréchette, gold – synchronized swimming

A Brazilian judge accidentally gave Fréchette an 8.7 score instead of a 9.7 in the solo synchronized swimming preliminary round. Fréchette settled for silver because the gap was too big to catch American Kristen Babb-Sprague. In 1993, Fréchette was named co-champion.

Salt Lake City 2002: Beckie Scott, gold – cross-country skiing

Scott climbed from bronze to gold after it was revealed Russians Olga Danilova and Larissa Lazutina – who finished first and second – had positive drug tests before the Games. Scott first moved up to silver in 2003 before earning gold in 2004.

Salt Lake City 2002: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, gold – figure skating

Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze edged Sale and Pelletier 5-4. But French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne said she was pressured by the head of the French federation to favour the Russians in return for the France ice dancing team winning gold. The ISU and International Olympic Committee ruled Canada would be co-champions and a new medal ceremony was held six days later.

2008 Beijing: Dylan Armstrong, bronze – shot put

Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus, who initially won bronze, had a prior doping case that surfaced in 2013 and disqualified him. Armstrong moved from fourth to third and received his medal in 2015.

Beijing 2008 and London 2012: Christine Girard, bronze and gold – weightlifting

Irina Nekrassova of Kazakhstan (Beijing silver medallist) was disqualified for use of a banned substance, while retests in 2016 found that Maya Maneza of Kazakhstan (London gold medallist) and Svetlana Tsarukaeva of Russia (London silver medallists) used steroids. Girard was presented with 2008 bronze and 2012 gold in 2018.

London 2012: Derek Drouin, silver – high jump

Gold medallist Ivan Ukhov of Russia was charged with violating an anti-doping rule five years after the Games. Drouin, who’d tied for bronze, officially moved up to a tie for silver in 2021.

Tokyo 2020: Andre De Grasse, Brendon Rodney, Aaron Brown and Jerome Blake, silver – men’s 4×100 relay

Leadoff runner Chijindu Ujah of Great Britain received a provisional anti-doping suspension six days after winning gold. Canada officially jumped to silver in February 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024.

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