|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
21 - 27 February 2002
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Gold for all
The figure skating controversy that engulfed Salt Lake City's Winter Olympics finally ended with a shared gold medal.
Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were awarded a gold medal in the Olympics pairs figure skating on Saturday following a decision by the International Skating Union (ISU). Sale and Pelletier originally finished second to Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, sparking a four-day storm of protest.
The Russian pair, who won the event after a 5-4 vote that surprised many observers, retain their gold medals. Sale and Pelletier will receive their gold medals on 21 February at the end of the ladies free figure skating.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said that of the nine members of the IOC who met to vote \on the ISU's deliberations, seven were in favour of giving the Canadians a gold, with one member abstaining.
ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta also announced the suspension of French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne -- who had voted for the Russians -- with immediate effect after being accused of misconduct. "The council received enough evidence that this individual was responsible for misconduct. She acted in a way that could not adequately guarantee both pairs equal conditions," Cinquanta said.
"I think the Russians should be happy with their gold medal and take the accolades in their home country," Mike Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Association, said. "It's a win- win result."
The awarding of a second gold medal is not unprecedented, though the circumstances were significantly different. In 1992, the IOC awarded a second gold medal in synchronised swimming in the Barcelona Games to Canada's Sylvie Frechette. The IOC's executive board agreed that Frechette was placed second because of a judging error and should be awarded a gold.
Berezhnaya and 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."
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