IOC chief pleased with Salt Lake GamesPosted: Sunday February 24, 2002 4:10 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- As his first Olympics as IOC president neared an end, Jacques Rogge said Sunday that he was "extremely pleased" with the games but would work with sports federations to prevent judging scandals.
Rogge said he planned a debriefing with winter sports leaders to "establish a list of points" assuring judging in sports such as figure skating and short-track speedskating was fair.
He said the International Olympic Committee had no plans to take over the judging, even though it had created the biggest stir of the games -- the awarding of a second gold medal in pairs skating after evidence that one judge's vote was manipulated.
"We respect totally the federations and their responsibility for staging the sports and assuring the results," Rogge said. "But we will discuss with them where needed the judging systems. ... We are partners. They run the sports, but these are our games."
Rogge defended the IOC's decision to quickly award the second pairs gold to Canada's Jaime Sale and David Pelletier, even though it sparked a string of protests, calls for duplicate golds in other cases and a threat by Russia to pull out of the games.
"I have no regrets on the decision and I think definitely the IOC would take the same decision today," he said. "Did we open a Pandora's Box? Absolutely not."
He said talks that defused the Russian boycott threat would continue when he visits Moscow in April.
Rogge said the pairs' case was different from other requests for duplicate medals in Salt Lake City because the International Skating Union "had already established the results were manipulated. ... Judging errors, that's human error in good faith. But cheating we cannot accept."
As Rogge spoke, international ski federation officials were announcing that triple-gold-medal cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg of Spain had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Rogge said a positive test destroyed any athlete's "credibility as an Olympic champion."
On other topics, Rogge:
-- said the IOC was pleased with the work of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. "They have done a superb job. The venues were superb. The crowds were warm and supportive. The athletes were very happy."
He also said the success of Salt Lake City "boosted the chances" of the United States winning the 2012 Games and wiped out the taste of the "bad games" in Atlanta in 1996. The U.S. Olympic Committee will pick a bid city from among New York, Washington, San Francisco and Houston later this year.
-- said security had gone as planned, but that it would remain "my priority until the last athlete has left."
-- applauded the record medal haul for the United States and said it always was important to the IOC that the host nation do well. He said new sports such as snowboarding and freestyle skiing were added to the Olympics "to make sure we have sports that are popular, that attract the interest of youth."
-- praised the American crowds for cheering all athletes and avoiding the jingoism that some had feared.
-- said he wanted to stay in the Olympic Village again "if they will have me." Rogge made history by staying in the village instead of the IOC hotel and called his time in a University of Utah dorm room very comfortable.
Rogge was elected last July to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch as president. His first seven months have been marked by security concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks and now an Olympics full of protest. He said that was nothing compared with the start of Samaranch's tenure -- the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Games, followed by the Soviet-led boycott of the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
"I think I'm privileged," Rogge said. "It's a honeymoon, I tell you."