Skating union head says he won't speed up process

Thursday, February 14, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Despite pressure from the International Olympic Committee, the head of the skating union refused Thursday to move up a hearing on the controversy over pairs figure skating.

IOC president Jacques Rogge sent a letter Wednesday to the head of the International Skating Union Ottavio Cinquanta urging them to settle the furor over the judging, which has become the biggest story of the Salt Lake City Games.

But Cinquanta said Thursday that no decision could be made until the ISU executive board meets Monday, and he said there were no plans to speed up the process.

"It is a legal hearing on an appeal. We are staying with the 18th," he said.

Rogge's letter had asked Cinquanta to resolve the dispute quickly.

"We would like to emphasize the high urgency of the matter and the need to take adequate action as quickly as possible," he wrote, without setting a specific deadline.

"It's our games, too," IOC director general Francois Carrard said in announcing the highly unusual warning. "It is our concern that this be settled expeditiously."

But on Thursday, Carrard said the IOC would not demand the ISU move any faster.

"We are working," Carrard said. "We will continue to work as long as necessary."

The furor started Monday when the Russian pair barely won the gold medal over the Canadians, even though the Russians made a clear mistake during their routine while the Canadians skated cleanly.

The skating union agreed to conduct a rare "internal assessment" after Cinquanta received "certain allegations" from American referee Ronald Pfenning, who oversaw the nine judges scoring pairs competition.

On Wednesday, France's Olympic chief said the French figure skating judge was "manipulated" into voting for the Russians.

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