Fri, September 20, 2013

Women's soccer squad joins ranks of all-time Canadian Olympic scandals

By QMI Agency


Canadian figure skaters David Pelletier and Jamie Sale display their silver medals after the pairs free skating competition at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The Russian pair of Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won gold amid a judging scandal, and the Canadians were ultimately given a gold, too.


Canada's 2012 Olympic women's soccer team may join the ranks of national Olympic scandals after its controversial semifinal 4-3 loss to the U.S. Monday.

They're likely to be remembered among two of the most infamous moments in modern Canadian Olympic history — the Sylvie Frechette judging error in 1992 and when David Pelletier/Jamie Sale got screwed in 2002.

For the few who've forgotten, here are the details of those two incidents:

Sylvie Frechette

At the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, Frechette had to settle for silver in synchronized swimming thanks to one of the strangest screw-ups imaginable: During the compulsory figures, Brazilian judge Ana Maria Da Silviera accidentally gave Frechette an 8.7 score -- when she meant to type in 9.7. According to Frechette's coach at the time, Da Silviera tried to fix the error but the computer wouldn't change. She consulted two referees, one of whom was American, who refused to change the score. That ultimately gave the gold to Kristen Babb-Sprague, who was married to Toronto Blue Jays player Ed Sprague and apparently had no problem keeping the ill-gotten gold. In the immediate aftermath of the mistake, Frechette coach Julie Sauve held no grudge against the judge: "The (Brazilian) judge reacted so fast, I cannot blame her. She's human. I can accept that. She said something right away. Who do you blame? The judge did a perfect job ... it's the people who made the decision." Frechette, too, was calm and classy. "It's the first time it has ever happened to me, and it had to happen at the Olympics. But when life is tough, I fight." Justice was served 16 months later, when the International Olympic Committee awarded her a gold. (Babb-Sprague kept hers, too.)

David Pelletier & Jamie Sale

The Love Story turned into a horror story at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics when Sale & Pelletier were robbed of a gold medal in figure skating pairs. The international dust-up that became known as Skategate revolved around Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who voted for the Russian pair over a clearly superior Canadian performance in the free skate. It was widely reported in the immediate aftermath that she had been pressured "to act in a certain way" — to vote for the Russians ahead of Sale and Pelletier. Upon getting the silver, the Canadian pair was classy: "Our silver medal is worth a gold," Sale said. Added Pelletier: "We can't control what we can't control. That's the way it is." Over Russian objections, Sale & Pelletier were awarded a gold medal along with their Russian competitors, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.