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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 18:33 GMT

French official denies wrongdoing

The president of the French skating federation has denied that he, or the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne, did anything wrong.

Didier Gailhague spoke out on his return to France from the Winter Olympic in Salt Lake City.

Gailhaguet said: "The North American press is very powerful.

"There were 1,750 journalists covering this matter. The federation and its judge were dirtied in a media campaign without precedent."

"It was total nonsense to award two gold medals," he added.

"It was a bad decision and it opened up the door (for later complaints)."

April decision

Le Gougne sparked controversy when she claimed Gailhaguet had put pressure on her to vote in favour of Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

But she insisted later that she had voted honestly and with her conscience.

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

The ISU will meet in April to make a final decision about the accusations against Le Gougne and Gailhaguet.


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