A screenshot of a Russian figure skating judge hugging Olympic gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova is being passed around as evidence that the event was fixed.
The judge, Alla Shekhovtseva, is married to Valentin Piseev, who’s the general director of the Russian figure skating federation. Her presence on the judging panel has been criticised after Sotnikova pulled a huge upset over South Korean favourite Yuna Kim.
SBS, a Korean television station, first posted the images of the hug.
We went back and watched the world television feed, and it confirmed that Shekhovtseva is among a large group of people congratulating Sotnikova backstage a few minutes after the event.
Here’s Shekhovtseva judging Yuna Kim’s routine:
Minutes later, after Yuna Kim lost to Sotnikova, she was backstage:
Based on images searches, we’re 99.9% sure it’s Shekhovtseva. Here’s a TV interview with her from 2012:
In an interview with Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune, International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta defended the decision to put Shekhovtseva on the panel:
“Would you rather have an idiot acting as a judge than a good one who is a relative of the manager of a federation? It is far more important to have a good judge than a possible conflict of interest.”
Congratulating a gold medalist is hardly evidence of a fix. But it’s a glaring reminder of just how much of a conflict of interest Shekhovtseva had.
Despite the controversy, the numbers seem to justify Sotnikova winning gold. She had a harder routine that Kim’s, and skated flawlessly.
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