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Commonwealth Games 2002

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  Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Three-year ban for skating judge
The Russians and Canadians show off their golds
The controversy led to two pairs sharing Olympic gold
The French judge at the centre of the Olympic figure skating scandal has been found guilty of misconduct and banned from the sport for three years.

The president of French skating received the same punishment.

In addition the pair will be banned from the next Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006.

It is scandalous, my most basic rights of defence were denied - they have decapitated me from the start
Marie-Reine Le Gougne

The verdicts against judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne and federation chief Didier Gailhaguet were announced after a two-day hearing of the International Skating Union (ISU) council.

The ISU council said they deliberated for five hours before coming to their decision.

"We went through the papers, we went through the evidence and then we decided," ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta said.

"We are more than confident we took the right decision."

The controversy arose when Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were awarded the pairs figure skating gold in Salt Lake City, much to the surprise of many observers.


Le Gougne, one of nine judges, later claimed Gailhaguet had put pressure on her to vote in favour of the Russian pair.

This was allegedly part of a vote-swapping deal with Russia to favour the French team in ice-dancing.

Le Gougne then retracted the accusation and said that she had voted honestly and with her conscience.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Le Gougne and awarded a gold medal to the Canadian pair.

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze
The Russians' win came as a surprise to most

Le Gougne and Gailhaguet both denied any wrongdoing and sought to clear their names.

They also claimed that they did not receive a fair hearing, maintaining that the case was biased against them so that the ISU could justify the decision to give second gold medals.

"It was a masquerade," Le Gougne said after Tuesday's ruling was announced.

"It is scandalous. My most basic rights of defence were denied. They have decapitated me from the start."

Le Gougne threatened to make revelations about the ISU and the way the sport is run.

"They won't stop me now," she said. "I have nothing more to lose. I will fight this to the end."

Le Gougne said she had already contacted Gailhaguet and her lawyers to immediately launch an appeal.

'Totally biased'

The ISU heard testimony from 13 witnesses at the hearings, almost all of whom had made allegations against Le Gougne or Gailhaguet.

"This hearing was arranged in a totally biased way," Le Gougne said as she was awaiting the verdicts.

"It was totally unfair. The ISU only wanted to justify the awarding of the second gold medals. I've been the scapegoat from the beginning."

The French pair and their lawyers complained the ISU did not call the other four judges who voted for the Russian pair as witnesses.

If they decide to procede with an appeal, the pair will have to go through the ISU's internal appeals process before they can take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

BBC Sport's Colin Maitland
"The French were accused of manipulating the pairs event scoring"
See also:

16 Feb 02 |  Sports Talk
Figure skating a farce?
15 Feb 02 |  Skating
Canadians delighted by gold
15 Feb 02 |  Skating
Shared gold is best solution
15 Feb 02 |  Skating
Canadian skaters get gold
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