French Judge Says Canada Pressured

The French judge in the middle of the figure skating controversy said she was under pressure from Canada, not her country's federation, before voting for the Russians in the pairs final, The New York Times reported.

Le Gougne said the lobbying effort was led by senior skating officials from Canada and began in September.

"They needed my vote," Le Gougne told the Times during the interview conducted in English and posted on the paper's Web site early Sunday. "It was going to be very close. I was in the middle."

Michael Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Association, dismissed the claims, also made last week in an interview with the French sports paper L'Equipe.

Le Gougne was suspended indefinitely by the International Skating Union for misconduct after she admitted that she had voted to give the Russians, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, the gold medal under pressure from the French federation. She also signed a statement with the ISU backing up that claim.

Ron Pfenning, the referee of the pairs panel, gave ISU head Ottavio Cinquanta a report detailing a meeting at which Le Gougne blurted out that she'd been pressured to vote for the Russians. During her outburst, she mentioned both the French skating federation and its president, Didier Gailhaguet.

Gailhaguet has denied pressuring Le Gougne.

Le Gougne said she only blamed the French federation because she lost her ability to fight accusations being made by other skating officials.

"I was so mixed up in my mind, I had trouble thinking properly," Le Gougne told the Times.

The International Olympic Committee awarded duplicate gold medals to the Canadians, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who finished a close second on Feb. 11 despite an obvious technical error by the Russians.

Le Gougne's future now depends on a hearing in April, when the results of an internal investigation by the ISU will be reviewed.