US bobsleder Holcomb gets Olympic silver posthumously


Washington (AFP)

US bobsled driver Steven Holcomb was posthumously awarded two silver medals from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday after the exhaustion of doping appeals, the US Olympic Committee announced.

Holcomb, found dead in 2017 at age 37 in his room at the US Olympic training center in Lake Placid, and Steve Langton were awarded silver in two-man as well as in four-man along with Chris Fogt and Curt Tomasevicz, the International Olympic Committee told the USOC.

Both US sled teams were third in events at Sochi behind triumphant Russian sleds. But in 2017, after doping samples from Sochi were re-analyzed, gold-medal winning pilot Alexander Zubkov and push athlete Alexey Voevoda from both winning Russian teams were disqualified for doping and stripped of medals.

"Though they should have received their silver medals together on the podium in 2014, we still celebrate their hard-fought achievements today," USOC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said.

"We also send our respects to Steven's family along with our profound sadness that Steven cannot be with us to receive his silver medals... He will forever be remembered as a legend and an inspiration, and his legacy and example will live on always."

A Swiss led moved up in the two-man event and a Latvian one advanced to the gold position in the four-man after appeal avenues were exhausted.

"This is a long time coming, and it's great to see these athletes get the medals they earned," USA Bobsled and Skeleton chief executive Darrin Steele said. "It doesn't make up for the experience they missed out on at the Games, but it was the right thing to do and we're all proud of them and what they accomplished."

Medals will be presented to the athletes and Holcomb's family in a ceremony once details are arranged.

"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.

"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 are happy that we now can celebrate and be proud of the silver medal accomplishments.

"This result appropriately bolsters Holcomb's legacy as one of the very best athletes to ever drive a bobsled. Being the fierce competitor and advocate for clean sport that that he was, he would be smiling knowing that we're one step closer to a fair playing field.

"As a team, it means a lot to have our efforts, sacrifice and hard work appropriately vindicated. That being said, this is a win not just for Team Holcomb but for all athletes who continue to do the right thing."

Holcomb won five world titles and the first Olympic four-man gold for a US sled since 1948 at 2010 in Vancouver as well as the Sochi silvers, making him the most decorated bobsledder in US history.

"We are so proud of Steven and all that he accomplished, both on and off the ice," said Holcomb's mother, Jean Schaefer. "While we wish Steven could accept his silver medals alongside his teammates, our family is honored to accept them on his behalf."