Ice Skating: Judges face tough action

THE INTERNATIONAL Skating Union (ISU) yesterday promised tough action against two judges if they are found to have colluded during the pairs final at the World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki.

The ISU president, Ottavio Cinquanta, said his organisation would study the official report of the alleged incidents and, if appropriate, "the regulations of the ISU will be applied and we will take strong action".

A Canadian television film submitted to officials appears to show two of the nine judges in the pairs final, Ukraine's Alfred Korytek and Russia's Sviatoslav Babenko, communicating during the event in defiance of the rules. It appeared to show them exchanging information on the performances of the Chinese and Polish pairs, silver and bronze medallists in the event, taking notes on the basis of their conversations and exchanging signals with body movements.

Though Korytek and Babenko voted almost identically for the top eight pairs on Wednesday, there is no suggestion their scoring could have affected the final result. The Russians Elena Berezhnaia and Anton Sikharulidze took the title from Xue Shen and Zhao Yongbo of China on a 7-2 vote of the nine judges, Korytek and Babenko both supporting the champions.

Sally-Anne Stapleford, the chairperson of the ISU's figure skating technical committee, said: "We have looked at the video and it doesn't look particularly good. There appears to have been some kind of communication. We will study the [referee's] report and make recommendations for sanction if we feel sanction is required."

In the past judges have been suspended for up to two years, usually for being biased in favour of skaters from their own country.