LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CP) -- Almost two years after the Salt Lake City Games, Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott is an Olympic champion.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Thursday that the 29-year-old from Vermilion, Alta., should be upgraded to gold because of doping infractions by the Russian winner.
"This is so important for sports and for history. This is a precedent-setting moment that the little guy won out finally and the right thing was done," Scott, speaking from Austria, told CBC Newsworld.
"So I'm thrilled in many different respects that this went the way it did."
Scott had already been moved from third to second place because of a doping infraction by the silver medallist, another Russian. But on Thursday, the Canadian won her battle to finish ahead of both Russians.
Thursday's ruling annuls all of Danilova's results at the Salt Lake Olympics, "ensuring in particular that Beckie Scott is ranked first and awarded the Olympic gold medal in the foregoing competition."
Scott said she understood the medals would be "redistributed" by March 15.
"This is a great day for Canada, our national team athletes and the cross-country skiing community across the country," Leopold Nadeau, president of Cross Country Canada, said in a statement.
"Beckie has become an international hero and an icon for fair play. We are tremendously excited that she will finally get the recognition as an Olympic champion for her precedent-setting performance."
The court also ruled that the International Olympic Committee pay the arbitration costs of 36,000 Swiss francs ($38,140 Cdn). The IOC was also ordered to pay Scott 8,000 Swiss francs ($8,475 Cdn) to help with her legal fees.
At issue was whether the Olympic Charter allowed the International Olympic Committee to strip the two Russians of medals they had won in Salt Lake prior to failing a drug test.
Scott became the first North American woman to win a cross-country Olympic medal when she finished third in the five-kilometre pursuit. Olga Danilova won the gold and Larissa Lazutina silver.
Following a later race, both Danilova and Lazutina tested positive for darbepoetin, which boosts the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles.
The IOC allowed Lazutina to keep her silver medals from the pursuit and the 10-kilometre combined and Danilova to retain her silver from the 10-kilometre classic and the pursuit gold because they had passed drug tests following those races.
Eventually Lazutina lost her medals after it was learned she had tested positive for blood doping at World Cup races prior to the Games. That made her ineligible for subsequent competitions like the Olympics.
So Scott was upgraded to silver but Danilova still retained the gold medal.
During an appearance before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Canadian Olympic Committee argued the Olympic Charter says any athlete caught cheating at a Games should have all their medals removed.
Under new rules laid down by the World Anti-Doping Agency, an athlete who fails a drug test forfeits any and all medals won at that competition.
"It is gratifying to know the Olympic gold medal is now a pure medal," Nadeau said. "This is a step in the right direction, but the fight doesn't end here."
Danilova and Lazutina had used various legal challenges to fight losing their medals. They even filed a protest with the European Court of Human Rights arguing they were denied a fair trial and sought $1 million US each in compensation.
The court also ruled on another Olympic doping offence involving cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg, a German-born Spaniard.
Muehlegg lost his gold medal in the 50-kilometre event, also for taking darbepoetin. However, the IOC allowed him to keep two other golds. Those now go to Norwegian competitors.