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Olympics-Figureskating-Doping concerns cast shadow over men’s gold-medal contest – Metro US

Olympics-Figureskating-Doping concerns cast shadow over men’s gold-medal contest

Figure Skating – Men Single Skating – Short Program
Figure Skating – Men Single Skating – Short Program

BEIJING (Reuters) – The men’s figure skating final, billed as one of the highlights of the Beijing Games featuring Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and American Nathan Chen, kicks off on Thursday as simmering Russian doping allegations cast a shadow over the contest.

Ahead of the highly anticipated event, the buzz around the figure skating circuit in Beijing has centred on day-old reports – still unconfirmed – that Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old gold medal favourite in the women’s competition – had tested positive for a banned drug.

Valieva was part of the six-person Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team that won gold on Monday. Medals from that event have yet to be awarded with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) citing unspecified legal reasons for the indefinite delay.

Mark Kondratiuk, who was also on the winning team, showed up at the Capital Indoor Stadium to warm up ahead of his competition, where the main focus will be on defending champion Hanyu and triple world title-holder Chen.

Hanyu, whose spot on the podium is in doubt after an eight-place finish in the short programme, will be looking to redeem himself and make history with the first-ever landing of the quadruple Axel in competition. He confessed earlier this week that he had yet to succeed, even in practice.

Chen, meanwhile, is half-way to his own redemption from Pyeongchang four years ago, when he went home empty-handed in a massive upset for the gold-medal favourite. He finished the short programme on Tuesday with a comfortable lead by beating Hanyu’s world record.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Julien Pretot; Editing by Michael Perry)

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