Winter Olympics: Russians furious over figure skating 'fix' slur
SOCHI, Russia (AFP) - Russian officials on Sunday angrily denied a story that they were colluding with the Americans to help each other win figure skating gold in Sochi.
This follows a story in French newspaper L'Equipe quoting an unnamed Russian coach saying there was a deal between the United States and Russia.
The deal allegedly would help Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White beat Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for gold in ice dancing while Russia would win the team competition.
"This is rubbish and chatter," said the director-general of the Russian figure skating federation Valentin Piseyev quoted by the R-Sport state sports news agency.
"If they have proof then present it and don't just talk. We already went through this in Salt Lake City (2002 Games) and if someone wants to make a champion through means other than skating and through pressure in the press then that is not going to happen."
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko added: "There is no point in commenting on such rubbish".
United States and Canadian figure skating officials also dismissed the report on Saturday night as Russia were on track for gold in the team event ahead of Canada.
Russia have 47 points, with Canada in second on 41 and the United States a further seven points behind in third.
"Comments made in a L'Equipe story are categorically false," US Figure Skating said in a statement.
"There is no 'help' between countries. We have no further response to rumours, anonymous sources or conjecture."
And Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director, said he did not see how it was possible.
"I was involved as an official in the system, and I don't see how that is possible," the former figure skater, now 47, told AFP.
"The decision will be made on how they perform. We're on the verge of finishing the first team event and want to focus on that. We haven't had any concern about any result this past week."
Davis and White said they had not heard about the story after they won the short dance on Saturday with a score of 75.98 with Olympic champions Virtue and Moir second with 72.98.
"I think we're confident that what we're putting out on the ice speaks for itself," said Davis.
Virtue and Moir blamed themselves for the score.
"We lived through Sale and Pelletier, and figure skating has a storied past with all that stuff, but the beautiful thing about being an athlete is that it's none of our concern," Moir said.
"It's all about us. When we sit in the kiss and cry and get our marks, the disappointment on our faces was because of our performance. It has nothing to do with the technical panel or the judges."
There has been an ongoing rivalry between the two couples, who train together under Russian coach Marina Zoueva in Detroit going back to their junior skating days.
Two-time world champions Virtue and Moir were runners-up to the Americans at both the world championships last year and the Grand Prix Final in December.
The current scoring system was introduced after the 2002 Olympic judging scandal when a French judge claimed she had been pressured to vote for a Russian pairs team over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.
The Canadians were later awarded a second gold medal.
The new team event concludes in Sochi on Sunday, with ice dancing to be held on Feb 16 and 17.