August 02, 2002 10:00 AM

Russian Olympic gold medallists Anton Sikharulidze and Yelena Berezhnaya threatened to sue U.S. TV networks after their photographs were used in reports on Russian organized crime and Olympic prize fixing, according to Reuters. Speaking from St. Petersburg with Berezhnaya at his side, Sikharulidze, 25, told Japanese network NTV television on Friday that their pictures accompanied U.S. news broadcasts about Uzbek-born businessman Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov’s being held on charges of fixing two Olympic figure-skating competitions. “What I saw was our photographs and when they were shown, the report said something about some Russian Mafia and organized crime,” said Sikharulidze. “We and people working with us are prepared to sue the TV companies.” During the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Berezhnaya, 24, and Sikharulidze edged out Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier for the gold medal after a narrow 5-4 vote. The decision caused such a furor that the Canadian runners-up were belatedly given a gold and there were three-year bans levied against French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne (who later said she had been pressured by the French figure-skating president to vote for the Russians) and her federation chief Didier Gailhaguet.

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