A nation erupts
Canadians furious after controversial skating decisionPosted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 1:55 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 12, 2002 3:56 PM
The Canadian duo -- the reigning world champions and sweethearts on and off the ice -- were edged out by Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze as Russia maintained an iron grip on the discipline which dates back to 1964.
"Robbed!" bellowed the front-page headlines of the Ottawa Sun and Winnipeg Free Press newspapers, with the latter complaining that "the decision was not only unpopular -- it was downright nefarious."
Pelletier was so disgusted with the judging he threatened to quit the sport while Sale dissolved in tears at the medals' ceremony.
The marking was widely booed by spectators and most of the crowd at the Olympic Ice Centre believed the Canadians' performance to music from Love Story was good enough for gold.
Canadian media talked of "fool's gold" and echoed the views of the pair's choreographer Lori Nichol who described the result as an "embarrassment" for figure skating.
"Last night's decision will likely go down as one of the most controversial of all time, even one of the most outrageous," said the Calgary Sun newspaper.
"What a pitifully disgraceful night for the insulated, wicked world of judicial figure skating," said the waymoresports.com website.
"They were robbed," a tearful Penny Gill, Sale's aunt, told the Edmonton Sun newspaper.
"They lost and the crowd couldn't believe it. Nobody could," said the Globe and Mail newspaper.
Pelletier said he was thinking of giving up the sport. "It is not the time to take a decision. I will sleep over that but it is clear that [Monday night's results] will be taken into account when it will be time for a decision."
Judging of figure skating has long been a subject of controversy with allegations of favoritism and trade-offs between the judges of various competing countries.
This is the third Games running where it has come under the spotlight, but previously the problem area was the ice dance discipline.
Last year senior International Olympic Committee official Richard Pound called for ice dance to be dropped from the Olympic program because of the stream of controversies.
After the Nagano Games of 1998, a Canadian judge, Jean Senft, went public with accusations of vote trading and the International Skating Union cited her for national bias based on her scores in Nagano.
After hearing recordings of telephone conversations between Senft and a Ukrainian judge, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ISU's citation. The ISU then suspended both judges involved.
The Globe and Mail newspaper ran a website poll asking whether judged events should be banned from the Olympics -- 71 percent agreed. State broadcaster CBC said it had received 1,700 angry e-mails protesting the decision and they were still pouring in.
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