Russians Protest Women's Figure Skating Results

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:20pm EDT

( - In another challenge to the judging results of the Olympic Winter Games, Russian officials have filed a formal protest of the women's figure skating finale Thursday, saying the Russian silver medalist Irina Slutskaya should get her own gold medal because the judging was biased.

Russian Figure Skating Federation President Valentin Piseyev signed the protest, which was sent to the referee of Thursday night's free skate.

Sarah Hughes, a 16-year-old American, won the gold after a flawless performance during the free skate. She placed fourth during the earlier short program. American skater Michelle Kwan took the bronze.

"We filed the protest last night because we think the judging was biased," the head of the Russian delegation in Salt Lake City, Viktor Mamatov was quoted as saying. "Canadian pairs skaters were awarded their gold medals. Now that subjective judging harmed us, we want the same for Slutskaya."

He's referring to Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier who were given their own gold medal after the International Skating Union (ISU) found there had been misconduct by a judge. They had originally been awarded a silver medal.

Russians Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya finished first after the competition.

Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the ISU, said he was aware of the protest.

"For us, this is not so important," said Cinquanta, whose organization is investigating the pairs judging.

Russian officials first threatened to walk out Thursday, citing favoritism and unfair treatment from Olympic officials and judges.

"If decisions are not made and issues we raised not resolved, the Russian team will not play hockey, will not run 30 kilometers, will look very negatively on other factors," Russian Olympic Committee President Leonid Tyagachev said Thursday.

He accused Olympic officials of going on a "witch hunt," citing a high number of Russian athletes who were singled out for drug tests, and referring to an unspecified ruling by a goal judge in ice hockey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was bias at the games but indicated that Russia wouldn't walk out. This after receiving a letter from International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge assuring him that the games were fair and that Rogge understood the Russians' anger.

This latest saga comes hours before the Russian men's hockey team faces the U.S. in a semifinal on the 22nd anniversary of the American victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid, N.Y.

E-mail a news tip to Melanie Hunter.

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