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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Miss Universe toppled
Exit Russia's Oxana Fedorova (L) and enter Panama's Justine Pasek
Oxana Fedorova (l) says she wants to study
Officials governing the Miss Universe beauty pageant have reportedly sacked this year's winner for failing to live up to the role - the first such sacking in the show business extravaganza's 52-year history.

Oxana Fedorova has left the United States, where the pageant is based, to return to her native Russia.


My prime goal is my studies and career in Russia

Oxana Fedorova
Ms Fedorova has denied being sacked, or that she is pregnant or secretly married - taboos for a Miss Universe - but the main gripe of the organisers appears to be that she failed to carry out duties such as attending Miss Teen USA 2002.

The runner-up in the competition on 29 May, Panama's Justine Pasek, will now fill the top post until the end of this competition's "reign".

Better things to do

"It's just like if you have a job to do," a source close to the pageant told Reuters news agency.

"If you don't do your job you can get fired."

The pageant, which is jointly owned by American mogul Donald Trump and the NBC broadcasting network, is due to hold an official news conference in New York later on Tuesday.

Miss Universe
Draws up to 600 million TV viewers in 176 countries
Winner gets a year's salary, use of a New York flat for one year and a wardrobe allowance
Duties include fund-raising for Aids research

Mr Trump described her loss as "too bad" but said the new Miss Universe was "equally beautiful and a tremendous crowd pleaser".

When Ms Fedorova, a policewoman, won the pageant in Puerto Rico, she was feted back in her native Russia which had never won the competition before.

She has told the Russian media that she was not sacked, but chose to resign herself to pursue her law studies back home in St Petersburg.

"The duties of a world beauty are wonderful," she said. "However, my prime goal is my studies and career in Russia."

Denying that she had ever married or had children, Ms Fedorova said she would remain Miss Universe for her fellow Russians and herself.

See also:

13 May 00 | South Asia
27 May 99 | Entertainment
15 Oct 99 | N Ireland
29 Jun 99 | Europe
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