(UPDATE: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeals of Canada and Slovenia to have the three French men's ski cross medallists disqualified for wearing modified race suits, according to a press release)
Sweeping the Olympic podium in an event is a major moment for any nation, a mark of a country's dominance and success in a particular discipline. One recent case of the feat, however, has come under scrutiny for a potential use of illegal equipment.
On Thursday, French athletes won all three medals in the finals of men's ski cross, in which four skiers at a time race down a course of terrain usually found in freestyle competition. On Saturday, the highest court in sports met to figure out if they gained an illegal advantage in doing so. From Thomson Reuters:
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was meeting on Saturday night to decide whether three French skiers who swept the podium in the men's ski cross finals at the Winter Olympics wore illegal suits.
Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol took the medals in Thursday's final but Canadian and Slovenian officials protested to the International Ski Federation (FIS), claiming they changed their suits to gain an illegal aerodynamic effect.
FIS said that it could not consider the complaint because it had not been made in time so the protest was escalated to CAS, sporting law's highest court.
"The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA), the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Slovenian Olympic Committee (SOC) ask for the disqualification of all of the French competitors from the 20 February 2014 ski cross Big Final competition and for the correction of the final rankings," CAS said in a statement.
"They allege that, just before the Big Final, French support staff changed the shaping of the lower leg suits of the riders creating an aerodynamic effect that the appellants submit is contrary to the International Freestyle Skiing Competition Rules."
CAS has announced that it will make its findings known on Sunday no later than 5 a.m. ET, so there will be an answer to this situation fairly soon.
While the final word on the event remains to be seen, the Canada and Slovenia are protesting in part because they stand to benefit from a disqualification of the French skiers. Canadian Brady Leman finished fourth after a late crash and would become the new gold medalist, while Slovenian Filip Flisar, who grabbed attention earlier this week for his love of moustaches, would become the new bronze medalist. (Russian Egor Korotkov would win the silver.) Those medals would be meaningful for each country's tally when it comes to bragging rights and national pride. France, meanwhile, would lose out on its Winter Olympics medal count of 15, although 12 would still rank as an all-time high for the nation.
This controversy stands in stark contrast to the most notable equipment discussion in Sochi from an American perspective. The U.S. speedskating team is currently engaged in a drawn out, complicated argument over the testing process for and impact of new, supposedly state-of-the-art suits that were to turn them into a force. Instead, athletes have complained of design flaws and a lack of support from team officials.
- - - - - - -