Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov

Man indicted for fixing 2002 Olympic figure skating has ‘life of luxury’

Leave a comment

Russia is providing a safe haven for the man indicted for fixing pairs figure skating at the 2002 Olympics and other criminal activities, according to ABC News.

Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a 65-year-old man described as a Russian mafia boss, has an Interpol arrest warrant yet lives a life of luxury.

“Frankly, there’s not much that we can do unless he voluntarily decides to show up at [New York’s] JFK [airport] one day,” said FBI agent Mike Gaeta, according to ABC.

Tokhtakhounov was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2002 for allegedly fixing the pairs competition at the Sale Lake City Olympics using bribes and threats.

Tokhtakhounov, known by the nickname “Little Taiwanese,” has denied wrongdoing. The FBI is still keeping tabs on him, according to the report.

“I am not bad, like you think,” he told The New York Times in a June article. “I am not the mafia. I am not a bandit.”

What happened at the 2002 Olympics changed figure skating forever.

In the pairs competition, Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were attempting to keep a Soviet Union/Unified Team/Russia gold-medal streak going that dated to 1964.

The Russians won gold over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, by a 5-4 judges vote.

The next day, a French judge reportedly said she was pressured by the head of France’s figure skating federation to vote for the Russians. Duplicate gold medals were awarded to Sale and Pelletier in light of the findings with a second, awkward medal ceremony.

The French judge later issued a denial and said she believed the Russians deserved to win.

The other part of the fix was to include a Russian judge voting for a French ice dance team later in the Olympics. Tokhtakhounov reportedly hoped this would help him with a French visa.

The fallout helped lead to an upheaval in figure skating scoring and the trashing of the 6.0 system in favor of today’s code of points.

Tokhtakhounov does not plan on attending the Sochi Olympics.

“It’s too cold,” he told ABC. “I’ll be watching the Olympics on my TV at home in the warm.”

Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in team event?

Kayla Harrison begins MMA career

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12:  (BROADCAST - OUT) Judoka Kayla Harrison of the United States poses for a photo with her gold medal on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison has joined mixed martial arts promotion World Series of Fighting as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter, but she isn’t 100 percent committed to competing and won’t set a first bout for at least one year.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said. “I haven’t booked a fight.”

Harrison, 26 and all but retired from judo, has been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Ronda Rousey‘s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo.

Harrison will serve as a commentator and brand ambassador before potentially getting into MMA competition. Her commentating debut will be at WSOF 34 in New York on Dec. 31 on NBC.

Harrison has taken boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential.

To compete in MMA, Harrison will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competes at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC. WSOF, which has no women’s weight classes, plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for a potential debut.

Harrison expects that if she fights, it will be at 145 pounds.

Harrison laughed about people tweeting at her to fight Brazilian Cristiane Justino, a former 145-pound title holder who is set to face Rousey, should Rousey win her comeback fight.

“I’ve never fought MMA before, so my first fight is not going to be for a belt,” Harrison cautioned. “I’m going to MMA 0-0, not as a two-time Olympic champion. People need to remember that.”

Harrison said she last conversed with Rousey one or two months ago. Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, congratulated Harrison on her second gold medal and told Harrison she was available if she needed anything.

Harrison said she might reach out to her former training partner early next year, after Rousey’s comeback fight, to pick her brain about MMA.

“And be like, hey, what do you got for me? Tell me everything,” Harrison joked.

MORE: Ronda Rousey sets comeback fight

U.S. men’s gymnastics program undergoes changes

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 25: Members of the U.S. Men's National Gymnastics Team gather before day two of the 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at Chafitz Arena on June 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S. men’s national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika‘s contract will not be renewed at the end of the year as USA Gymnastics makes changes after missing the men’s team podium at a second straight Olympics.

Mazeika was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where the U.S. men earned team medals at a non-home Games for the first time. He then served as national team coordinator from 2009 through this year.

The U.S. men finished fifth at the last two Olympics.

USA Gymnastics will replace the national team coordinator role with a high-performance director “focused on sustained international success.”

“The coaches, committee members and staff did a thorough review of the existing structure and results, and then took a hard look at what is needed to prepare our athletes for success heading toward Tokyo and beyond,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said in a press release.

MORE: U.S. women’s national team coordinator named