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Girl, I smell a rat! ;)

This is from ESPN's website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Sources say Russian and French judges made deal

By Cynthia Faulkner

SALT LAKE CITY -- Sources within the International Skating Union have told ESPN/ABC Sports figure skating reporter Christine Brennan that a collaboration between the French and Russian judges helped spark the controversy that has the skating world and the Winter Olympics abuzz.

The Canadian Olympic delegation on Tuesday requested an investigation into why Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won the gold medal when many observers feel that Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were more worthy.

Brennan, one of the world's leading authorities on figure skating, says that reliable sources within the ISU told her that a collaboration between the French and Russian judges did happen.

"When (figure skating officials) investigate, I think they're going to find out that the French judge worked a deal with the Russians," said Brennan, one of the world's leading authorities on figure skating.

"There's absolutely no doubt that the Canadians should have won. Their 'Love Story' program was just marvelous. The performance was perfect.

"The Russian pair made small errors including a small mistake on one jump. To me it's clear. It should have been crystal clear for the Canadians."

Brennan said she watched the tapes again and the Canadians' performance only gets better.

"I was shocked the moment I saw the scores and I'm still shocked," she said. "I ran into three international judges, all of them judging at the Olympics, within three minutes after the competition. 'This is an outrage,' they said in unison. I've never seen judges come up to a reporter -- as opposed to going away from them -- and say this is an outrage."

Until Monday, only a few diehard figure skating fans in North America knew who Sale and Pelletier were. That's all changed.

"Their agent told me he's had about a hundred calls," Brennan said. "I'm guessing they are now a household name, which never would have been if they'd won the gold medal with no controversy. I would imagine that they became millionaires in the last 24 hours. The sympathy factor is huge."

The scandal already is drawing comparisons to figure skating's most famous pair of all -- Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. The story could grow if the United States were to get involved because it's conceivable that if Sale and Pelletier should have won gold, Americans Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman could have won bronze, Brennan said.

"This is really starting to remind me of Tonya and Nancy, but it's not there yet," Brennan said. "There's something about this that's starting to build and there's the sense that the pace with which it's starting is like it was with Tonya and Nancy. Now there's an investigation and the story has legs."

Cynthia Faulkner is the Olympics editor for

Team WTAworld, Senior Member
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Here's another one from The New York Times

February 13, 2002

Inquiry Started on Figure Skating Judging


ALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 12 — Responding to disenchantment over the decision to award the Olympic gold medal to a Russian pair instead of a Canadian one on Monday night, the International Skating Union said today it was investigating whether the judges had followed its rules and procedures.

Fredi Schmid, the organization's general secretary, announced the start of the investigation in a statement that conveyed concern over the strong public outcry about the judging panel's decision to award the gold medal to the Russian pair, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. They narrowly edged the Canadians skaters David Pelletier and Jamie Salé, who appeared to have performed a cleaner and more elegant program, one that left the Salt Lake Ice Center audience chanting "Six! Six!" for a perfect score.

But the Russians got five first- place votes to four for the Canadians: Russia, China, Poland, Ukraine and France selected the Russian couple, while the United States, Canada, Japan and Germany placed the Canadians in first. The Russians received presentation marks of 5.9 from seven of the nine judges and 5.8 from the other two, while Salé and Pelletier got just four 5.9's and five 5.8's.

"Those were the lowest presentation marks we've ever had," Salé said.

While skating officials said the result could not be overturned, the inquiry could help restore some credibility to the judging process after the strong reaction by the crowd at the Salt Lake Ice Center, which booed the scores. Today, the frustration filtered through every corner of figure skating, from current officials to past judges.

"When that decision came in, I didn't want to judge again," said Sally Rehorick, head of mission of the Canadian Olympic Association and a judge for 25 years. "I don't know whether it was embarrassment; I was horrified. As a judge you go in and you want things to be fair. When Jamie and David finished skating I thought: `Oh, that's easy. They made it easy.' "

The judges could not answer for themselves. This morning, the head referee, Ron Pfenning, held a meeting with the pairs judges at the Salt Lake Ice Center. It was a standard session to review the marks, but the circumstances surrounding it were highly unusual.

Just before the meeting, Pfenning left a room and said he had to talk to a lawyer before commenting on the judges' decision Monday night. More than two hours into the session — and after a crack in the meeting room door had been covered with duct tape to deter any prying eyes — Pfenning sent word through a spokesman that neither he nor the judges were allowed to explain the reasons behind the scoring, citing skating union rules prohibiting official comment until after the Olympic competition.

The skating union, which in the past has been accused of being impervious to public sentiment, said in its statement that it was beginning the inquiry "to respect the public opinion."

The president of the skating union, Ottavio Cinquanta, said he would hold a news conference Wednesday.

Even if violations in the judging were uncovered, officials said it would be impossible to strip the Russians of their gold medal. "Results are final," Rehorick said.

There could be sanctions against judges, officials said. Skating judges have been reprimanded or suspended in the past; at the 1999 world championships, two pairs judges, one from Russia and the other from Ukraine, were suspended after television footage showed them glancing at each other and appearing to talk before marks were announced.

But even Salé and Pelletier said they did not expect the gold medal to be overturned. The Canadian skaters tried to remain above the fray today. They playfully made a gesture to throw their silver medals away, but they did not want to feed into the atmosphere of controversy.

"Dave and I are so proud of what we've done," Salé said. "They can't take that away."

The dispute over the judging left Pelletier with concerns about figure skating's credibility. "It's like doping in track and field or bobsledding or whatever," he said. "Anytime something like this happens, this is not good for the sport."

Frank Carroll, a longtime coach of elite skaters, said today that he could now understand why critics question the credibility of figure skating. "You see the panel of judges and say: Why? Why? Why?" he said.

Not to this extreme, but judges are accustomed to controversy. Over the years, many skaters have felt snubbed by the subjectivity of judging. In the weeks before the Olympics, a pool of International Skating Union judges are selected from the participating nations at random.

"The countries play games," said Judy Blumberg, a former Olympian and three-time bronze medalist at the world championships in the mid- 1980's. "The Canadian team flat-out won. It's a shame."

Believing they had won, Pelletier kissed the ice and Salé's face lit up once the last note of their reprised "Love Story" routine played out. Without a misstep or dropped line, the Canadians mirrored each other in their flawless presentation and pulled the fans in with their emotive expressions during their boy-meets- girl routine.

On their second element, Sikharulidze stumbled through a double axel, then Berezhnaya began a series of shaky landings. Although their routine was more difficult than the Canadians', they botched some of the same moves that Pelletier and Salé performed without a glitch.

The Canadians consistently tied or beat the Russians' scores for technical merit, to no avail.

Each judge totals the marks for technical merit and presentation and ranks the pairs accordingly. In case of a tie, the pair with the better presentation wins. Three judges ranked the Russians first outright, and two ranked them first based on the tie breaker. None of the four who ranked the Canadians first resorted to the tie breaker.

In defense of Sikharulidze and Berezhnaya, the Russian coach, Tamara Moskvina, said: "It is done. The results are in."

But the debate would not go away. "As the marks came up, I was completely shocked and disillusioned by the whole thing," said Sandra Bezic, a skating analyst for NBC Sports.

Her colleague Scott Hamilton, an Olympic gold-medal winner, added that when he saw the 5-4 split among the judges, "I had a hard time believing it."
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