Act quickly, IOC head tells ISU

The president of the International Olympic Committee has stepped into the controversy surrrounding Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

Jacques Rogge is calling on the International Skating Union to "act as quickly as possible" to resolve the row that began when Sale and Pelletier lost the gold medal to a Russian pair.

Rogge's call for fast action came in a letter to ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta, who said at a press conference Wednesday that there will be no changes in the medals awarded in the pairs event.

"It's our games, too," IOC director general Francois Carrard said, announcing the IOC's move. "We are concerned for the athletes. It is our concern that this be settled expeditiously."

The letter from Rogge didn't specify a deadline.

The ISU Council will meet on Feb. 18 to discuss allegations of abuse in the judging process but "cannot change the result of the competition," Cinquanta said, citing existing rules and regulations.

Cinquanta said he would propose unspecified changes to the system of international judging when the council meets next week.

He said if an inquiry uncovered evidence of misconduct, his organization would be "very, very tough."

Cinquanta spoke amid reports that figure skating judges collaborated to award gold to Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze on Monday. The pair edged out Sale and Pelletier despite committing a glaring technical error.

Cinquanta said he has received "certain allegations" from American referee Ronald Pfenning, a non-voting judge at the pairs event.

The ISU head, who grew agitated as a succession of reporters questioned the credibility of his organization, downplayed the scandal that has grabbed headlines and led newscasts worldwide.

He said he had yet to see hard evidence of corrupt judging, and challenged the disgruntled Canadian Olympic Association to hire an independent body to investigate the incident.

When asked how he felt about the results, Cinquanta responded defiantly: "I am not the judge of judges. I am president of the ISU."

The COA has sent a letter to the ISU requesting an independent inquiry into judging.

Also on Wednesday, Skate Canada president Marilyn Chidlow, who is also a board member of COA, said on Wednesday an official appeal was being prepared and would be presented to the ISU's council meeting next week.

Sale's mother, Patti Segal, said at a press conference on Wednesday that she hoped for the sake of "the sport and young athletes who have dreams in them" that "some sort of action is taken to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Segal also noted that Cinquanta is in "a fragile situation" because, as an international governing body, the ISU must be sensitive to the position of all countries including Russia.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien also weighed in on the subject.

"I don't know because I'm not an expert," he said, "but I watched with [my wife] Aline and we were extremely disappointed because Sale and Pelletier had a fabulous performance."