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Thursday, March 25, 1999
TV footage appears to show 'some kind of collusion'HELSINKI, Finland (AP) -- Television footage showing two judges exchanging glances, making gestures and possibly conversing during the pairs competition at the World Figure Skating Championships had the event's governing body concerned Thursday.
"There appears to have been some kind of collusion," said Sally-Anne Stapleford, chairwoman of the International Skating Union's technical committee. "It doesn't look particularly good."
The footage was shot by Canadian television at Wednesday night's free program, the final event of the pairs competition.
It shows judges Alfred Korytek of Ukraine and Sviatoslov Babenko of Russia appearing to talk and gesture at each other. The Russian pair of Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won the event in a decision that brought hoots from many of the spectators.
The crowd favorites had been Shen Xue and Hongbo Zhao of China, whose spectacularly athletic performance followed the Russians' routine. The video shows Korytek and Babenko glancing at each other as the Chinese pair were taking their bows, before the scores were announced. Both judges had them first in the free skate.
ISU rules say "judges must mark independently and, while judging, they are not permitted to converse with one another or to indicate errors by action or sound."
The two judges, sitting in adjacent spots, also placed Poland's Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek, the program's final skaters, lower than Russian pair Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov.
Six of the other seven judges placed the Polish pair third and gave the Russian pair fourth or fifth position.
Korytek was one of the judges in the 1994 Olympics controversy centering around Oksana Baiul of Ukraine winning the gold. He also is the father of Baiul's first coach.
Under current procedures, the competition referee is to submit a report within six weeks to the technical committee, which will evaluate whether to apply sanctions.