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What would a Winter Games be without charges of corruption in figure skating?
A report from French sports magazine L'Equipe alleged on Saturday that judges from the United States and Russia would conspire to help each other out during the Sochi Games. According to the magazine's unidentified Russian source, American judges would help Russians win the gold in the pairs and team event. In return, Russian judges would help Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White win the ice dancing event.
U.S. Figure Skating officials quickly moved to squelch the rumor.
"Comments made in a L’Equipe story are categorically false," U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement via the Chicago Tribune. "There is no 'help’ between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture."
Davis and White are the reigning world champions in ice dancing, so arguably they won't need any help to secure gold. Then again, reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — who share coaches and a Michigan practice rink with Davis and White — remain big hurdles. The Russians, meanwhile, obviously want to turn in a good showing on home ice.
Canadian skating officials said they were not concerned about L'Equipe's report.
"We were made aware of the article from L'Equipe today and we feel it is best not to comment on it," Skate Canada director Michael Slipchuk said in the Toronto Sun. "Canada is confident that the results of competition will be determined where they should be — on the ice."
Davis and White scored a 75.98 during Saturday's team event while Virtue and Moir logged a 72.98 after Virtue made a technical mistake on a twizzle.
“It’s unfortunate there is an article,” Davis said in the Chicago Tribune. “We are confident what we are putting out on the ice speaks for itself.”
The most famous skating corruption story occurred in the Salt Lake City Games of 2002 when skating pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada were awarded a second gold medal after a French judge admitted to being pressured into helping a Russian pair win gold.
The new team event concludes in Sochi on Sunday, while the pairs program is scheduled for Feb. 11-12. Ice dancing will be held Feb. 16-17. Though judging reform after the 2002 Winter Games supposedly lessened the chances and impact of vote swapping, you can expect the results of those programs to be scrutinized even more than usual.
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