Olympics: Belarus celebrate historic victory

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The Independent Online

Belarus produced perhaps the biggest upset in Olympic ice hockey history when they beat Sweden to reach the semi-finals of the competition.

A team with just one NHL player in their squad, Belarus scored two goals while one man down against their big-name opponents, gold medalists at Lillehammer eight years ago, to achieve a 4-3 win.

The game was reminiscent of the United States' famous victory over the Soviet Union in 1980, with Belarus having been outscored 16-2 in their previous two games and listed as 10 million-to-one shots for the gold medal.

The suspended French Olympic judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne is being treated as a scapegoat, the French Ice Sports Federation (FFSG) said yesterday. The federation also said it was standing by its president Didier Gailhaguet, who has been accused of putting pressure on Le Gougne to influence the vote in the ice dancing competition won by the Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

"She is only a scapegoat who allowed the international leaders of figure skating to hide the misfunctioning of a judging system which is totally obsolete," the FFSG said in a statement on Wednesday. "I am certain Marie-Reine Le Gougne did not judge under instructions from Didier Gailhaguet but according to her convictions," said the FFSG vice-president Marc Faujanet.

The FFSG said Gailhaguet was one of few figure skating leaders to have offered to introduce judging system reforms.