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(2nd LD) S. Korea to file complaint over Winter Games figure skating judging

2014/03/21 20:38

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will file an official complaint with the international governing body for figure skating over the controversial composition of the judging panel for the ladies' singles competition at this year's Winter Olympics, officials said on Friday.

South Korean star Kim Yu-na won the silver medal in the event at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia last month, finishing more than five points behind Adelina Sotnikova of Russia in a decision that baffled many experts and fans alike. Those who questioned the result pointed out that Kim performed a near-flawless routine in her free skate while Sotnikova made a noticeable landing mistaking during her program.

Kim, who retired after Sochi, took the result in stride and repeatedly said she put the Olympics behind her. Yet millions of her supporters signed an online petition to demand an inquiry into what they believed was rigged judging. Under pressure to take action for one of the country's most iconic athletes, the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) and the Korea Skating Union (KSU) finally decided to approach the International Skating Union (ISU), saying they had both believed all along that the judging in Sochi had been unfair.

In a joint statement, the KOC and the KSU said the decision to file the complaint was reached after consulting with figure skating judges and with international attorneys in South Korea. The two organizations added they also had to consider certain risks that may come with such a move.

"We had to be extremely careful with our action because filing a complaint may adversely affect our relationships with the ISU and international figure skating judges, which could put our athletes at a disadvantage at future competitions," the statement read. "However, after deliberating over what would be the best course of action for our people, we decided to appeal with the ISU."

   The ISU Constitution and General Regulations state that "no protests against evaluations by referees, judges and the technical panel of skaters' performances are allowed." The ISU also states that protests against results "are permitted only in the case of incorrect mathematical calculation."

   However, under Article 24 of the ISU Constitution and General Regulations, complaints may be filed with the ISU's Disciplinary Commission "within 60 days of learning of the facts or events which constitute a disciplinary or ethical offense." The KSU and the KOC said they believe the composition of the panel in Sochi was in violation of the ISU's ethical rules.

The panel for the free skate included Alla Shekhovtseva of Russia, who is married to the head of the Russian figure skating body, Valentin Pissev. Another member, Yuri Balkov of Ukraine, had once been suspended from judging for a year after trying to fix the ice dancing competition at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

Also, Alexander Lakernik, vice president of the Russian skating federation, headed the technical panel, which assesses skaters' spins and jumps, among other technical elements.

Kim scored 219.11 points in total, the third best mark of her decorated career that includes the 2010 Olympic gold and two world championships. Sotnikova earned 224.59 points, the first time she earned more than 200 points in a competition other than Russian and European championships.

Later on Friday, Kim said through her agency that she "respected" the move by the KOC and the KSU.

"As an athlete who competed for South Korea at the Sochi Winter Olympics, I humbly accept the decision by the KOC and the KSU to file their complaint," Kim said through a statement released by All That Sports.

Separately, the agency said it hoped the filing of the complaint would help prevent further judging disputes involving South Korean athletes.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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