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Saturday, 16 February, 2002, 03:04 GMT

Russians unhappy at sharing gold

By BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay in Salt Lake City

Russian skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze believe they are still rightful champions, despite being forced to share gold with their Canadian rivals.

"We have to accept it, there is nothing we can do," said a disappointed Berezhnaya.

"But we can't really enjoy our victory any more."

Russian representatives believe the media and public pressure played an unfair role in elevating the Canadians from silver to joint gold.

"You can't start trading Olympic medals like toys"
Nikolai Dolgopolov
Russian journalist

And Sikharulidze admitted: "The scandal of the last few days has made us uncomfortable."

Rudolf Nezvegsky, Russian Olympic Committee official, described the decision as "a huge blow".

Nezvegsky said he thought the intervention gave the impression that sporting medals could be won and lost in the courtroom.

"By doing this, they have struck a huge blow not only to the Olympic spirit of fair competition, but also to the whole nature of sport," he said.

Russian journalist Nikolai Dolgopolov declared the decision "an insult".

"You can't start trading Olympic medals like toys," he argued.

"Otherwise, what will happen in the future?"

"I am very disappointed, decisions like this should not be reconsidered."

Prompting an overhaul

Canadian Olympic chief Mike Chambers however insisted the decision was not to the detriment of the Russian pair.

"This is a win-win result," he said.

"I think the Russians should be happy with their gold medal and take the accolades back in their home country."

Chambers hoped the fall-out from the controversy would force a much-needed overhaul of judging in ice skating.

"It has opened a can of worms and seriously questioned how one particular sport is marked"
Simon Clegg
Team GB chef de mission

"Today's solution is for an acute circumstance, but the chronic disease needs to be looked at."

The lawyer representing Sale and Pelletier agreed there was a "really dark cloud" hanging over the sport.

"The International Skating Union and the International Olympic Committee got their heads together here and eventually came up with the right decision," said Patrice Bruret.

"Obviously, we would have liked it sooner because it's tough for any athlete who thinks they have gold, but don't get it.

"That has now been repaired, albeit belatedly, but the ISU now has got to make sure this doesn't happen in 2006."

Responding to the verdict, Team GB chef de mission Simon Clegg concluded:

"From a sporting perspective it was the right decision and I am delighted.

"But it has opened a can of worms and seriously questioned how one particular sport is marked."

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