(4 of 5)
After Le Gougne's outburst at the post-event meeting on Tuesday, the American referee Pfenning wrote a letter outlining her accusations and took it to Cinquanta, the I.S.U. chief. Cinquanta says that when he confronted Le Gougne with the accusations, she denied them at first. But in the days that followed, he was presented with several affidavits from people who said Le Gougne had told them she had been pressured. A high-ranking member of the I.S.U. also told of reports about malfeasance in the pairs skating. On Wednesday Gailhaguet told a reporter for the Associated Press that Le Gougne had been "somewhat manipulated" by people outside the French federation. Though he later said he had been misinterpreted, A.P. stood by its story.
That same day the I.O.C. executive board sent a letter to Cinquanta urging quick action, a message he had already received in person from Rogge. "We didn't step in on the merits of the matter," says Olympic committee general director Francois Carrard, "but we wanted it expedited as quickly as possible." Toronto's Globe and Mail reported last week that on Thursday afternoon Rogge told Cinquanta he could take the matter out of the I.S.U.'s hands entirely because Le Gougne had violated the Olympic oath she took during the opening ceremonies of the Games. To avoid that embarrassment, Cinquanta would have to act fast.
On Thursday night the I.S.U. board met to draft its plan. Le Gougne, an international judge for 15 years, would be suspended indefinitely for failing to tell the skating union immediately that she had been approached by people seeking to sway her vote. The only equitable solution would be to award a second set of gold medals to Sale and Pelletier while allowing Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze to keep theirs. For the first time, an Olympic medal decision would be changed as a result of a judge's misconduct.
By that time Rogge and the other members of the Olympic committee were aware that the Canadian Olympic Association had filed an application before the court of Arbitration for Sport, a non-Olympic body, asking the court to hear its request for a second gold medal and to compel the pairs judges to testify. The court agreed to hear the case on Friday. That threatened to carry the dispute to a forum beyond the control of the committee and the I.S.U. On Friday morning the nine-member I.O.C. board ratified the I.S.U. plan by a 7-1 vote. China opposed it; Russia abstained.
Pelletier and Sale, meanwhile, were being pelted with valentines. Their constant sportsmanship and shrugging good cheer was probably as a good a performance as any they gave on the ice, but it was what the moment required, and it earned them a lot of goodwill. Jay Leno and Rosie O'Donnell swooned for them. Endorsement offers flooded in. They didn't say if they were going to Disney World, but by now it would probably be willing to come to them.