Scandals left lasting taint: Sale

Sun Feb 9, 2014 10:21am EST
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By Pritha Sarkar

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Jamie Sale said figure skating was still suffering from its tainted past as Meryl Davis and Charlie White got a taste of being in the eye of a judging storm over allegations of an Olympic gold medal pact between the U.S. and Russia.

"Scandals made a handful of skaters household names but everyone else is now paying the price," 2002 Olympic champion Sale told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Sale and her former husband David Pelletier were thrust into the spotlight at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games when a judging controversy erupted and they were belatedly awarded duplicate gold medals in the pairs competition after a French official admitted she had been ordered to mark them down.

That incident proved to be a watershed moment for figure skating as it led to a complete overhaul of the scoring system, with the old 6.0 format axed.

But since then any flicker of a judging scandal, whether true or not, seems to spark worldwide interest, as was the case at the Sochi Games on Saturday.

A small blurb in a French sports newspaper reported a deal had been brokered to ensure Davis and White became the first Americans to win the Olympic ice dance gold, while Russia in return would benefit in the team and pairs competitions.

All parties quickly dismissed the report, with U.S. Figure Skating calling it "laughable" as twice world champions Davis and White are favourites for the ice dance gold, given they have not been beaten for almost two years.

Russia in turn are favourite to scoop the inaugural Olympic team gold as they boast strong performers in all four disciplines.   Continued...