PARIS – The president of the French Skating Federation on Friday denied having any contact "before, during or after" the Winter Olympics with a reputed Russian mobster charged with fixing two skating events.
Didier Gailhaguet said he was "shocked and scandalized" by the accusations concerning Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, who was arrested in Venice, Italy, this week.
"In the name of the French Skating Federation and my own name, I affirm very clearly that we had no relation, no contact directlyowever, Gailhaguet said the federation met with the Russian in spring 2000, at Tokhtakhounov's demand, regarding a possible partnership with the federation "for the benefit of a Paris ice hockey club."
He did not elaborate, saying only that "no follow-up was given to this exchange and no contacts were kept up."
The International Skating Association suspended Gailhaguet for three years and banned him from the 2006 Winter Games after ruling that he and judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne manipulated the scoring of the pairs skating competition at the Salt Lake City Games, a dispute that led to the unprecedented awarding of duplicate gold medals.
Le Gougne was suspended indefinitely by the ISU in Salt Lake City after initially declaring she voted for Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze to win under pressure from Gailhaguet.
Le Gougne later recanted the accusations, saying she had been under emotional distress and was harassed by ISU officials into making false claims against Gailhaguet.
The ISU threw out the judges' marks and gave duplicate golds to Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.
France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat won gold in the ice dancing competition a week after the pairs competition.
In a statement accompanying Gailhaguet's, Peizerat called the allegations his event had been fixed "disturbing and sad. It must never happen again."
"We skated our hearts out at the Olympic Games," Peizerat said in the statement. "In the eyes of anyone who observed our event, whether spectators or judges, we clearly deserved the gold medal we were awarded."
In a separate statement issued by the French Skating Federation, Anissina said, "Gwendal and myself never needed anybody to help us win our gold medal in Salt Lake City."
"I categorically denounce all the slanderous, unjust, and disgraceful allegations that were made against me after the arrest of Mr. Tokhtakhounov."