(Reuters) - France’s Didier Gailhaguet, who was banned from any involvement in skating following the Salt Lake City Games judging scandal, believes he should be given a chance to become the next president of the sport’s governing body because he “didn’t kill anyone”.
Gailhaguet is bidding to replace Ottavio Cinquanta as International Skating Union (ISU) president when the Italian steps down later this year but he is still tainted by being one of the central figures in the 2002 scandal.
He was accused by French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne of putting pressure on her to favor Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze over Canada’s Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in the pairs competition.
Le Gougne later retracted the accusation but the International Olympic Committee awarded the Canadians duplicate gold medals. The ISU banned Le Gougne and Gailhaguet for three years and from the 2006 Turin Olympics.
“I have brought (the scandal) up with every member I have spoken to, and said ‘okay, I am not perfect, I have made mistakes, but all this has changed me’,” the president of the French Ice Sports Federation told insidethegames website (www.insidethegames.biz) during the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“Even murderers who have been in jail get a second chance.
“Why shouldn’t I? I didn’t kill anyone. I didn’t press a gun against any of the nine judges, I didn’t pay money,” added 62-year-old former figure skater.
“I’m not a saint, not perfect, but I never went over the blue line. “This is not fair to me at all.
“Nobody, even my worst opponents, cannot say I do not have a true passion and authenticity about skating and all sport.”
Gailhaguet has employed Mike Lee’s British consultancy firm, which last year helped Sebastian Coe to become president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to organize his campaign.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond