Are Olympic figure skating competitions as fixed as professional wrestling matches?
Famed French sports daily L’Equipe emphatically says: oui.
On Friday, the broadsheet claimed that an unnamed Russian coach has admitted that the United States and Russia have initiated a “proposed barter” to assist figure skaters from both countries in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
L’Equipe is the newspaper that first broke the Lance Armstrong doping scandal back in 2005.
According to Canada.com, the alleged collusion is pretty straightforward: Russian judges will help American ice-dancing couple Meryl Davis and Charlie White win gold medals while American judges will Russia win gold in team ice skating.
The vote-swapping would be beneficial to both sides because they are not directly competing in either event.
The country that would get shafted the most is Canada because defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir represent the Great White North.
The U.S Figure Skating Association denied the charges over the weekend.
“Comments made in a L’Equipe story are categorically false,” media relations manager Renee Felton said in a press release. “There is no ‘help’ between countries.”
Americans Davis and White are the prohibitive favorites to win gold medals in ice dancing in Sochi. They have not lost in two years. They also hold a number of world records for scoring.
All might not be what it seems, however. An apparently bitter Canada.com asserts that the American skating couple was visibly shaky in their twizzles (a fancy word for a turn) in the short-dance portion of a competition in Japan. Despite the terrible twizzles, Davis and White managed to outscore Canadians Virtue and Moir by 0.07 points in the portion.
As ESPN notes, figure skating is no stranger to score-fixing scandals. At the 2002 Salt Lake Games, for example, a French judge allegedly fixed her scores. Consequently, members of the International Olympic Committee decided to alter the whole scoring system considerably.