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Olympics / Sports

US Figure Skating calls result-fixing report 'categorically false'

SOCHI, Russia -- U.S. Figure Skating called a report it is involved in collusion to fix the ice dance result on Feb. 17 in favor of U.S. couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White "categorically false."

The French newspaper L'Equipe, quoting an anonymous Russian coach, said the United States and Russia have struck a deal that would help Davis and White win the ice dance gold and Russia win both pairs and the team event, which it leads heading into Sunday's final.

The U.S. dancers have been in close competition with Canadian rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir for five seasons. Virtue and Moir are reigning Olympic champions, Davis and White reigning world champions.

"Comments made in a L'Equipe story are categorically false," U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement. "There is no 'help' between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture."

International Skating Union spokesperson Selina Vanier said in an email Saturday, "The ISU does not react to allegations without evidence."

In the short dance phase of the team event Saturday night, Davis and White scored 75.98 to 72.98 for Virtue and Moir. The Canadians were penalized because Virtue made a significant mistake on one element, a form of pirouette known as a twizzle.

"The disappointment on our faces is because of our performance and not what went on with the judges," Moir said.

Both he and Virtue said they were unconcerned about the report of a deal. Davis said she had not heard about it until asked by reporters after the short dance.

"It's unfortunate there is an article," she said. "We are confident what we are putting out on the ice speaks for itself."

Marina Zoueva, who coaches both teams, said she had not "read anything."

Zoueva said the short dance marks were "reasonable. Tessa made a technical mistake, and Meryl and Charlie skated clean. I can see (how) they can get a little bit better."

Michael Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director, said in an emailed statement he was aware of L'Equipe's article but preferred not to comment directly on it.

"Canada is confident that the results of the competition will be determined where they should be, on the ice," Slipchuk said.

At the Salt Lake City Olympics, an alleged deal involving the pairs and dance results led the International Olympic Committee to award a second pairs gold to Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. They finished second in the judging to Russian team Elena Bereznaia and Anton Sikharulidze.

The deal, involving and exposed by French judge Marie-Reine LeGougne, was to ensure that the Russians and a French couple, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizeray, won the dance.

In the aftermath, the International Skating Union revamped the entire scoring and judging system in an attempt to negate any impact of attempts at score trading.

"We have lived through Sale and Pelletier," Moir said. "Figure skating has a storied past with all that stuff."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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