Elena Nikitina, above, and Alexander Tretiyakov have been stripped of 2014 Olympic skeleton medals. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)

The International Olympic Committee has stripped Russians Alexander Tretiyakov and Elena Nikitina of their skeleton medals from the 2014 Sochi Olympics over doping violations.

Tretiyakov is the second Russian to have his Sochi gold medal taken away, joining cross-country skier Alexander Legkov. Nikitina won a bronze medal. Both sliders, who were seen as medal contenders at next year’s PyeongChang Winter Games, also are banned from future Olympics.

[Russia spent $50 billion on the Sochi Olympics. It might actually have been worth it.]

Barring an appeal, two Americans will move up in the final skeleton results from 2014, with Matthew Antoine improving from bronze to silver in the men’s competition and Katie Uhlaender moving from fourth to the bronze medal in the women’s. Uhlaender missed out on the bronze by 0.04 of a second and said earlier this month she was still coming to grips with the thought of becoming an Olympic medalist 3 1/2 years after the fact.

“I can’t even put my head there,” Uhlaender told the Associated Press. “It’s been a year since the McLaren Report [on Russian doping] came out. I’m just going to focus on each race and control what I can control.”

Russians won 33 medals in Sochi, the most of any country. Six now have been taken away after evidence of a state-sponsored doping operation both leading up to and during the Games was uncovered. According to TASS, Russia expects to be stripped of its two- and four-man bobsled gold medals from Sochi, as well. The United States, with 28 overall medals, will now lead the Sochi table after Wednesday’s skeleton announcements.

The IOC will announce early next month whether it will ban Russian athletes from next year’s Winter Games as further punishment for the doping scheme. It did not issue a blanket ban of Russian athletes for last year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, ruling that individual sports federations could decide whether specially vetted Russians could compete as “neutral” athletes. That option apparently is on the table again, though Russian sports leaders have said they would boycott the PyeongChang Games if their athletes aren’t allowed to compete under the Russian flag.

Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that it would not lift its suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency because of the country’s refusal to officially admit to the doping scheme and its refusal to turn over doping samples collected during the time of the cheating. An investigation issued last year by Canadian attorney Richard McLaren found that Russia doped more than 1,000 Olympic athletes in 30 sports between 2011 and 2015, tainting the country’s results at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 2013 track and field world championships and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

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