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  • Friday, March 26, 1999

    ISU president says no action pending

    By NEIL STEVENS -- Canadian Press
     HELSINKI (CP) -- The International Skating Union won't let two judges talk to the media about a judging controversy that erupted over the pairs event at the world figure skating championships.
     "Kindly, no," ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta replied when asked during a news conference Friday if interviews might be arranged with the two judges. "It is a rule that a judge, a referee, it is better should not make comments 12 months a year let alone during a competition."
     The only comments judges make to the public should be on arena scoreboards when they award marks, Cinquanta said.
     CTV video of the Wednesday night pairs final shows judges Ukrainian Alfred Korytek, 62, and Russian Sviatoslav Babenko, 47, exchanging glances before entering their marks into computer terminal.
     Babenko is shown turning towards Korytek with his hand covering his mouth. In another view, Korytek looks at Babenko's foot and Babenko then taps it twice against the boards.
     ISU rules forbid judges from conversing while determining what marks to award during a competition.
     Hely Abbondati of Finland, the panel referee, has a copy of the video and will report to the ISU technical committee at its next meeting, which is at the end of April.
     Sally-Anne Stapleford of Britain, who chair's the technical committee, was asked Friday if there would be any fast-track review given the exposure the controversy is now receiving.
     "No," she said.
     The case is novel, Stapleford admits. Most inquiries into judges' actions concern bias or errors, she said, adding she could not recall a case similar to this one.
     Cinquanta also saw no need for an immediate review.
     "I have heard something about it," he said when asked about the pairs judging controversy. "We don't want to make an official declaration before the end of the competition -- for psychological reasons and practical reasons.
     "The incident will be evaluated and considered and the ISU regulations will apply, for sure. The regulations imply that we will take strong action."
     After viewing the CTV video Thursday, Stapleford said: "It doesn't look good. There does appear to have been some kind of communication. We'll study the (referee's) report and make recommendations if we feel that sanctions are required."
     Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were awarded gold medals for the second year in a row despite a fall by Berezhnaya.
     Xue Shen and Hongbo Shao skated a clean and exceptional long program and took home silver. The Hartwall Arena crowd booed the result at the time.
     
     Cinquanta was asked if judges need to be shielded from one another to guard against any type of communication during marking.
     "Do you believe it is proper to put our judges in a box?" Cinquanta replied. "We might have a positive result in one way but it would be a disaster as an image."
     


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