SALT LAKE CITY -- As the French judge in the middle of the figure skating controversy sat in a meeting the day after the pairs final, something was bothering her. Finally, she said she'd been pressured by her federation, mentioning its president by name.
The emotional outburst was real, the panel's referee said Sunday. There was nothing scripted or staged about it. And contrary to Marie-Reine Le Gougne's latest story, there was no mention of pressure by the Canadians.
"Am I surprised? My surprise is only in that she appears to be changing her statement almost daily," referee Ron Pfenning said from his home in Hyannis, Mass….
An interview mentioning Canadian pressure was published in Sunday's New York Times. Le Gougne said the lobbying effort was led by senior skating officials from Canada and began in September.
"They needed my vote," she was quoted as saying. "It was going to be very close. I was in the middle."…
After the meeting, Pfenning filed a report describing Le Gougne's outburst directly to ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta, who then interviewed Le Gougne personally.
She told him the same thing and signed a written statement: She had been pressured by her federation to vote for the Russians….
However, now Le Gougne says that despite the pressure she voted with her "heart and soul."
She said she only accused Gailhaguet and her federation because she was verbally attacked and felt physically threatened by other skating officials. When she reached her hotel after the event, Stapleford scolded her for voting for the Russians, Le Gougne told L'Equipe.
But several people who saw Le Gougne's exchange with Stapleford dispute her account. It was Le Gougne who approached Stapleford, said Jon Jackson, an ISU judge and an attorney from San Francisco.
"She came right up to Sally Stapleford and said, `Ice dancing is ruining the sport of figure skating. I have to defend myself. I did this for my dance team. It's a deal with the Russians, first place for first place,"' said Jackson, who wrote a letter to Cinquanta about the incident and was later interviewed by ISU investigators.