Olympic judge Irina Deriugina appeals 8-year ban

Updated: May 22, 2008, 3:21 PM ET
Associated Press

GENEVA -- Rhythmic gymnastics judge Irina Deriugina is fighting an eight-year ban imposed by the world governing body that would keep her from serving as a supervising judge at the Beijing Olympics.

The Ukrainian denies charges by the International Gymnastics Federation that she is responsible for "various infringements" of its code of discipline.

"It is an unbelievable story," Deriugina told The Associated Press. "FIG did not present any facts regarding any of the infringements."

The governing body said in a statement Thursday it has created a three-person tribunal to begin considering her case in the next 10 days.

Neither Deriugina nor FIG officials would give details of her alleged offenses.

However, official documents referred to parts of the FIG code relating to damaging the image of gymnastics; improperly influencing the result of a competition; and behaving in an offensive way toward gymnasts or officials.

A panel led by FIG president Bruno Grandi suspended her last month from all official duties effective to the end of 2016.

Deriugina is also trying to block the Switzerland-based governing body's decision in a civil court case in Kiev, Ukraine.

"I will go two ways. I will do the appeal for the sporting way, and I will send documents to court in Ukraine," she said.

As a member of the technical commission for rhythmic gymnastics, Deriugina has helped teach and assess judges, and set the scoring standards for points to be awarded in competition.

She was scheduled to serve on the superior jury in Beijing. That body is responsible for correcting poor judging decisions and dealing with disciplinary cases.

FIG secretary-general Andre Gueisbuhler said Deriugina could yet be at Beijing for the Aug. 8-24 games as a working official.

"Everything is possible. An appeal could reduce the sanction or suspend the sanction until a final decision," he said.

If Deriugina's appeal fails, it would be the second time she has missed an Olympics through suspension. She was banned from judging for one year, and missed the 2000 Sydney Games, after she and five other officials were found to have discriminated against Ukrainian competitor Elena Vitrichenko at the European Championships in Zaragoza, Spain.

Vitrichenko trained at a rival gym to Deriugina's and was marked so lowly she would have failed to reach the Olympic qualifying standard. She was later awarded a place on the Ukraine team at Sydney by the International Olympic Committee.

Now 50, Deriugina was coached by her mother Albina and became the all-round world champion in 1977 and 1979. They run a gymnastics school in Kiev and coach current world champion Anna Bessonova and 1992 Olympic all-round gold medalist Aleksandra Timoshenko.

Deriugina said she would coach in Beijing regardless of the outcome of her appeal.

"The Ukrainian team which I am coaching is among the main gold medal contenders. I am sure that this incident will not influence their ... spirit and they will train even harder to bring the Olympic gold back to Ukraine."

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Associated Press writer Maria Danilova in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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