TOPICS > Nation

Canadian Pair Awarded Gold Medals for Skating

BY Admin  February 15, 2002 at 6:05 PM EST

Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, who were awarded gold medals after the competition will keep their medals as well.

Olympic and skating officials made the announcement today, hoping to bring to a close a controversy that has overshadowed much of the Winter Games.

The decision was announced at a joint press conference today by the International Olympics Committee and International Skating Union. The gold medals were awarded by the IOC at the suggestion of the ISU.

“[French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne] acted in a way that was not adequate to guarantee both pairs equal condition and this, I think, is enough,” said Ottavio Cinquanta, head of the ISU. “We have declared misconduct.”

Canadians Sale and Pelletier said they were happy with the decision.

“Everyone knows what we deserve and we know what we deserve and we are taking that home with us and that’s all that matters,” Sale said.

The controversy developed Monday night when judges awarded the Russians the gold over the Canadians by a 5-4 vote. Commentators said the Canadian pair completed their program almost flawlessly, while the Russians, who were performing a more difficult program, made some apparent technical mistakes.

After the competition, reports circulated that the French judge was pressured to vote for the Russian pair. Le Gougne has been suspended indefinitely following an investigation by the ISU.

Le Gougne voted for the Russian skaters along with judges from Russia, Poland, Ukraine and China. She has not answered reporters’ questions as International Skating Union rules prevent judges from public comment regarding their scoring decisions.

Russian officials denounced the decision.

“By doing this, they just struck a huge blow, not only to the Olympic spirit of fair competition but also to the whole nature of sport,” Russian Olympic official Rudolf Nezvegsky said.

The IOC executive committee voted 7-1, with one abstention, to accept the gold medal recommendation from the skating union.

“We took a position that is one of justice and fairness for the athletes,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge.

Rogge said he hoped to present Jamie Sale and David Pelletier with their gold medals next Thursday, before the start of the women’s program.