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Russian Arrested In Olympic Ice Skating Bribery Scandal

In New York, federal prosecutors have announced the arrest in Italy of an alleged Russian crime figure in connection with the ice skating scandal that rocked the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Scandal and charges of deals in pairs figure skating and ice dancing dominated the 2002 Winter Olympics. The accusations flew so furiously and the publicity grew so intense that some observers went so far as to suggest that the Olympics drop ice dancing from its competitive program.

The drama began when the popular Canadian pairs team of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier lost the gold medal to the Russian team in a razor-thin vote. A French judge said she was pressured to vote for the Russian team. In exchange, the ice dancing award was to go to the French team, which included a Russian born skater.

In the end, the French team did place first in ice dancing and the Olympics took the unprecedented step of awarding gold medals to both the Canadian and Russian pairs teams.

Now the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have helped Italian police arrest Alimzan Tokhtakhounov in northern Italy on charges that he tried to fix the Olympics competitions. He is charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe sports officials. He faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine on each of the those counts.

The federal criminal complaint identifies Mr. Tokhtakhounov as a "major figure in international Eurasian organized crime."