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Controversies Continue at Winter Olympic Games


Controversies continue at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Russian Olympic Committee has threatened to pull out of the games over officiating, while the South Koreans plan to file a lawsuit over judging at Wednesday night's short track speed skating event.

Before a packed news conference, Russia said its threat to withdraw from the Olympics is based on subjective officiating. Officials cited figure skating, men's hockey and cross country skiing, particularly a women's cross country ski relay race that took place Thursday without the Russians because of a blood test infraction.

Russia was not allowed in the race because nine-time Olympic medallist Larissa Lazutina produced a high hemoglobin level, making her ineligible to compete.

The President of the Russian Olympic Committee, Leonid Tyagachev, said he told IOC president Jacques Rogge that his nation was "greatly unappreciated" in the Olympics. Through an interpreter, he said Rogge needs to address Russia's concerns. "Jacques Rogge should express his apologies, but should also undertake certain measures," he said. "Should these measures not be taken, then the Russian team will pack its bags and leave for Russia, because what is happening today will lead to the deterioration of the Olympic movement in the whole world."

Rogge sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin to assure him the games were fair and that his nation's anger was understood.

Reporters quizzed IOC Director General Francois Carrard about whether the awarding of a second gold medal here in pairs figure skating to Canada, after a Russian pair won a controversial decision, has led to other protests. "Judgment calls are part, we've said it from day one, of human nature and the human reactions are understandable. So there is a lot of emotion building up, and I think these protests are the expression of such emotions," he said.

Mr. Carrard added that it is the individual sports federations, not the IOC, which must handle any protests in specific events.

Meanwhile, South Korea's team also held a news conference here, saying it planned to file a lawsuit against the referees of Wednesday's 1,500 meters short track speed skating event. Korean Kim Dong Sung lost the gold medal to American Apolo Anton Ohno when he was disqualified for an illegal move near the finish.

Korean Coach Jun Myong-Kyu, through an interpreter, insisted his skater did nothing to warrant the disqualification. "The Korean skater did not block Ohno," he said. "Kim Dong Sung did not try to impede Ohno in any way. Ohno made a gesture as if he was impeded by Kim Dong Sung, and based on his gesture I think the referees made judgment, misjudgment, and that's what was wrong with it."

Shortly afterward, The International Skating Union rejected the Korean Protest.

Internet sites have been packed with protest messages by South Koreans. There were reports that the Koreans were even considering boycotting Sunday's Closing Ceremony here.

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