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Russians aren't expecting any changes

8/24/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- The Russian Olympic delegation joined the
growing list of Olympic malcontents Tuesday, arguing that its two
biggest stars got cheated in the gymnastics competition.

The Russians sent letters to the International Gymnastics
Federation and to International Olympic Committee president Jacques
Rogge to complain about scoring that cost Svetlana Khorkina a gold
medal in the all-around and kept Alexei Nemov off the medal stand
in high bar finals.

The Russians, however, said they aren't expecting any changes in
the outcomes of the competitions and have no plans to go to the
Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"We would like to inform the International Olympic Committee
that all is not well in the International Gymnastic Federation with
judging," the head of the Russian delegation, Anatoly Kolesov,
told Russian TV station, First Channel. "There are favorites and
there are non-favorites."

In event finals Monday night, Nemov performed a sterling high
bar routine that included six release moves and looked much more
difficult than anything the other nine gymnasts did. He took a big
step on his landing, however, and finished fifth. Fans booed for 10
minutes after his score was posted and Nemov said he thought the
score was too low.

Khorkina finished second in the all-around to American Carly
Patterson last Thursday, and also complained about the scoring.

Russian delegation spokesman Gennady Shvets portrayed the letter
to Rogge as "not an official protest. Just a letter."

"Nobody's doing anything to change the results, or change the
medals," Shvets said. "We want Jacques Rogge to pay more
attention to the sport. "

Under normal circumstances, the IOC does not get involved in
protests or results, unless asked by the governing body of a sport.
FIG, meanwhile, has said it will not change results based on
judgment calls.

FIG spokesman Philippe Silacci said Tuesday that the entire
competition will be evaluated when the technical committee meets in
October.

"Each official championship is reviewed with the videotape. ...
That's the regulation," he said.

Nemov's routine was the breaking point of a week filled with
controversy at the gymnastics arena.

Only when Nemov stepped onto the podium and asked for quiet did
the booing stop. That allowed American Paul Hamm to perform. He
scored a 9.812 that earned him a silver medal.

Hamm won the gold medal in the all-around, but that victory was
disputed. After South Korea complained, FIG suspended three judges
on the parallel bars panel for unfairly docking Yang Tae-young a
tenth of a point on his start value, the difficulty of the routine.
The South Korean won the bronze medal but would have finished first
if he had received the extra tenth.

FIG, however, has refused to change the result.

"We realize that our appeal is unlikely to change final results
of competitions, but we must draw attention of the International
Olympic Committee to the existing problem," Kolesov told the
Itar-Tass news agency. "One must not reconcile with the existing
state of affairs."

This isn't the first time the Russians have complained about
their athletes being slighted. They threatened to walk out of the
Salt Lake City Games in 2002, claiming judges were biased against
the Russians. They also demanded -- unsuccessfully -- an additional
gold medal for Irina Slutskaya after she was edged by Sarah Hughes
for the figure skating title.