Press Release < back to list
04.26.2002

FRENCH JUDGE TELLS &quot;60 MINUTES&quot; IT'S UNFAIR SHE'S CALLED &quot;THE BIN LADEN&quot; OF FIGURE SKATING IN HER FIRST U.S. TELEVISION INTERVIEW - SUNDAY, APRIL 28

Marie-Reine Le Gougne, the French figure skating judge at the center of the Olympic skating scandal, tells Ed Bradley that it's unfair of people to call her "the Bin Laden" of figure skating. Le Gougne, who said she was pressured by a French official to vote for a Russian pair and then recanted her story, appears in her first U.S. television interview on 60 MINUTES Sunday, April 28 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"That's so painful to imagine that, how they have said I am the Bin Laden of the figure skating world. It's so unfair...unacceptable," Le Gougne says. She angered people because the day after she and other judges awarded a gold medal to a pair of Russians over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in a controversial decision, she emotionally claimed she had been pressured to vote for the Russians by the head of the French skating federation. She says she wasn't herself when she made the outburst. "I was in such high distress...I was unable to think properly...act properly. It was a nightmare," she tells Bradley.

Le Gougne says if she had to do it all over again, she would still vote for the Russians, Anton Sikharuldidze and Elena Berezhnaya. "I have considered [their] performance as more creative, more original and I have felt a very, very huge emotion during [their] program and that's it," she tells Bradley. And the mistakes most people thought the Russians made? "That's the famous mistake," she says when shown Sikharuldidze apparently stumbling after a jump. "We call it a stepping out of a landing...a slight mistake." Berezhnaya made a wobbly landing as well, but it was nothing, she says. "No mistake...the landing is on one foot," says Le Gougne.

After recanting her original story, Le Gougne then insisted it was a Canadian judge who put pressure on her to vote for Sale and Pelletier. She stuck to that in her interview last week in Paris. "[The Canadian judge] asked me to help him...for the Canadian couple...to have the Canadian couple [in] first place," she tells Bradley.

Le Gougne has been suspended from her duties as a figure skating judge and will appear before a hearing of the International Skating Union next week which will determine her future in the sport. Bradley also speaks to other French skating judges who say the Le Gougne affair is just one of many questionable behind-the-scenes dealings inside the French skating federation.