On February 15, 2002, the International Olympic Committee announces it has sufficient evidence of fraud by a French judge and awards a second gold medal in pairs figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. The decision comes after days of rumors and behind-the-scenes investigations.
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As part of a vote-trading scheme, a French judge allegedly succumbed to pressure from her federation to award a gold medal score to Russian pair Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, leaving Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier with the silver.
Four days earlier, the Canadians skated a nearly flawless routine that received loud cheers from the crowd at the Salt Lake Center. In the Russians’ final skate, Sikharulidze bungled the landing on a jump. But the pair was awarded the gold in a 5-4 vote that was booed loudly.
“We took a position that was one of justice and fairness for the athletes,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge about the awarding of a second gold.
Joked Pelletier at a news conference the following day: “We do hope we get the bronze, too, so we can get the entire collection.”
The International Skating Federation suspended the French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne. Valentin Piseyev, the president of the Federation of Russian Figure Skating, said the awarding of a second gold was dictated by pressure from North American media.
The scandal led to a revised judging system aimed to better represent performances and to safeguard against the manipulation of scores.
In 2012, Le Gougne insisted she was a scapegoat. “My life was devastated,” she told Reuters.