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Two Decades Later, Tara Lipinski Says 'Meddling' Skating Scandal Should 'Not Be Forgotten'
Tara Lipinski traveled around the world and even interviewed disgraced French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne to make her new docuseries, "Meddling" about an outrageous 2002 Olympian figure skating scandal.
Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski has made a film about one of the sport’s most outrageous scandals because she doesn't want its lessons to be forgotten.
Lipinski, who became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in the history of figure skating in 1998, executive produced “Meddling” with her husband Todd Kapostasy. The four-part Peacock docuseries dives deep into the scandalous behind-the-scenes details of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. There, Russian forces allegedly rigged the judging so that Russia’s Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze would win the gold medal. Many believe that the now- disgraced French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne robbed Canada’s Jamie Salé and David Pelletier of a would-be victory. Le Gougne was eventually suspended for three years, the BBC reported.
The incident changed the way the sport is judged
"To think that we skated under a system where there really was no criteria for the judges to accurately judge the skater’s technical and artistic abilities, it’s kind of mind-boggling now," Lipinski told Oxygen.com in a phone interview. “Thank goodness that the judging system has changed so now that every step and glide and jump and spin and movement is taken into account and judged and now it’s very technical and hard for the viewers at home to understand but it’s a lot more fair."
The gold medalist told Oxygen.com that she and her husband wanted to dive deep into the scandal as its 20th-anniversary approaches. She said that along with the Tonya Harding scandal, this was one of the biggest scandals in the sport’s history.
“We dug a little big and there really wasn't anything that was done on this since 2002 that was a really deep intensive and comprehensive look at the scandal and I think that intrigued me,” she said. “I think I know as much as there is to know about figure skating, but I think I realized that there were a lot of dots I couldn't connect and so many players connected to this.”
She said that the scandal, which she calls a disappointing “blemish” on the sport’s history, goes well beyond the French judge.
“When you really dig down you realize there was a Russian mobster that was involved, there were many other countries and federations and people behind the French judge who were a part of this,” Lipinski, who is now NBC's prime time figure skating commentator, old Oxygen.com. “That intrigued me to uncover all the aspects of what happened in 2002.”
Lipinski and Kapostasy traveled to Russia, France and Canada to interview people connected to the scandal, including Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who hasn’t spoken to American media in two decades.
“This isn’t an event that just happened and should be forgotten,” Lipinski told Oxygen.com. “What happened in our sport was quite terrible and it affected so many people and it is still affecting people to this day.”
She reiterated that the case “should not be forgotten.”