Britain upgraded to World Cup bobsled gold from 2017 race

The British bobsled team said Thursday it has won a World Cup gold medal for the first time, a result that became official nearly four years after the what is now considered the winning sled crossed the finish line.

British Bobsleigh and Skeleton announced that the four-man team of Lamin Deen, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Andrew Matthews has been upgraded to the gold medal for a race in Canada that occurred Nov. 25, 2017, in Whistler, British Columbia.

The reason: The Russian crew that beat them that day has since been disqualified because the driver of that sled — Alexander Kasyanov — was sanctioned for doping violations that occurred at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a state-backed scheme to swap steroid-tainted samples for clean urine.

Part of those sanctions including vacating past results, including the World Cup win.

“It’s fantastic to see that Lamin, Ben, Toby and Andrew have been upgraded to race winners,” British federation chair Joanna Poulton said. “It’s a huge achievement and something they should be incredibly proud of, as we all are.”

The British federation said it has asked the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation to provide replacement gold medals from that race, plus new bronze medals for a World Cup race that occurred in Lake Placid, New York, in January 2016. With some of Kasjanov’s results vacated, Deen, Matthews, John Baines and Joel Fearon would have finished third in that competition.

The British announcement of the upgraded World Cup results and the first four-man win came on Deen’s 40th birthday. Also upgraded: A German sled driven by Nico Walther is now listed as the second-place finisher after originally crossing the line third that day, and a Canadian sled driven by Justin Kripps was promoted to third place.

“It’ll go down in history but it’s also a huge boost moving forward,” Deen said. “I know it was a few years ago now but it shows that the top step of the podium is possible. Hopefully we can replicate that in the coming season and at the Olympic Games.”

Deen is seeking to qualify for this coming season’s Beijing Games, which would be his third Olympic berth. He also competed at Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018.

This isn’t the first time that a British sliding team has gotten a result upgraded as part of the fallout from the Russian doping scandal.

In 2019, the International Olympic Committee’s executive board reallocated the bobsled medals from the Sochi Games in bobsledding after vacating the golds that Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov won in both the two- and four-man events.

U.S. bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who died in 2017, had the two bronzes he won in Sochi upgraded to silvers. In two-man, Switzerland’s team of Beat Hefti and Alex Baumann was upgraded to gold medalists, followed by Holcomb and Steven Langton and the Latvian sled of Oskars Melbardis and Daumants Dreiskens.

In four-man, the sled driven by Melbardis was upgraded to gold, followed by the sled driven by Holcomb’s team and the British sled driven by John Jackson — who finally got his Olympic medal in November 2019, nearly six years after the Sochi Games.