Russians aren't expecting any changes

Updated: August 24, 2004, 3:22 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press