Friday, February 15, 2002
Russian pair caught in controversy's crossfire
SALT LAKE CITY -- Anton Sikharulidze didn't do anything
So why, the gold medalist wonders, is he made out to be the bad
guy? Why does he feel so uncomfortable, so victimized? Why does a
25-year-old, four days removed from Olympic greatness, ponder
"I can't really enjoy this," Sikharulidze said Friday. "I
understand that I have a gold medal and it's finished already, but
I'm only talking about a bad situation and about judges who made
bad things happen. I can't even talk to my parents about this."
This is the flip side of the IOC decision to award a gold medal
to the Canadian couple whose Monday night silver medal prompted
such an enormous outcry.
What happens to the winners, whose only crime was skating their
Sikharulidze's bitterness is not directed at Canadians Jamie
Sale and David Pelletier, who received a second gold medal for the
pairs figure skating event that ended in controversy.
Sikharulidze and partner Elena Berezhnaya won the free skate 5-4
to take the gold. But when a French judge admitted she was
pressured to vote for the Russians, Olympic and skating officials
decided to declare co-champions.
"They ask people in Canada who won, but if they ask in Moscow,
I will give you 2 million people who say the Russians,"
Sikharulidze said. They have made my life very difficult."
Sikharulidze, a two-time world champion and a silver medalist at
the Nagano Games with Berezhnaya, said he has lost about 10 pounds
across four sleepless nights since the scandal broke.
He is most upset with the television coverage, which he ripped
as one-sided and geared to making the Russians look like villains.
"The media say I stole an Olympic medal," he said. "I feel we
skated good enough to be Olympic champions and it is the judges who
think we skated the best. It's not right, TV should show both
"It's too much talk and the media is making us like bad guys.
We are not bad guys. We never talked to judges. I don't have enough
money to buy nine judges."
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze made it clear they have nothing
against Sale and Pelletier -- "great skaters," the Russians said.
Nor would they comment on the threat dishonest judging presents for