Olympic medallists decided 50 years later

FIFTY years after the pairs figure skating was held at the 1964 Innsbruck Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee has finally worked out the medal winners.

At the time, the Soviet Union husband-and-wife combination of Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov was awarded gold, ahead of pairs from Germany and Canada, with American brother-and- sister Vivian and Ron Joseph finishing fourth.

Two years later the IOC announced it was stripping the silver medal off the Germans after learning they had signed a professional contract (the Olympics were strictly amateur at the time), to skate with Holiday On Ice.

The Germans gave back their medals, which were presented to the Canadians, with the Joseph siblings receiving bronze medals.

That was far from the end of the story, though.

In 1987, IOC officials decided the German skaters were not the only ones who had signed professional contracts and they should have their silver medals reinstated. A presentation was made in December of that year.

After decades of uncertainty, the IOC has this week officially decided what the record books should show in relation to the event - gold to the Soviet Union, joint silvers to Germany and Canada, and bronze to the US, a decision the Josephs said they were happy with.

"An Olympic medal is the ultimate sports symbol of hard work, sacrifice and the perseverance of athletes, parents and coaches," they said in a statement.

"We are happy the issue of our medal has finally been resolved."

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