New York Times details rhythmic gymnastics judging cheating scandal

Rhythmic Gymnastics

An International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) investigation into suspected cheating in exams for prospective rhythmic gymnastics judges included “crude markups, blatant copying” and “unexplained bonus points,” reports the New York Times.

The newspaper obtained much of the investigation’s findings, “spanning hundreds of pages,” from the FIG investigation.

Last week, the FIG expelled the lead rhythmic gymnastics official from the London Olympics and suspended six other technical committee members after “irregularities” were found at international judges’ courses last fall.

The newspaper reports the scandal implicates as many as 60 people.

The documents showed that in Bucharest, Romania, test takers clearly copied answers from one anothers’ papers, including the mistakes. In Moscow, 114 answers were changed on dozens of tests; in Alicante, Spain, 257 answers were changed.

The exam sheets themselves served as evidence of the suspected cheating — crude markups, blatant copying, unexplained bonus points — that proved as clumsy as a botched rhythmic routine.

One test clearly had been touched by more than one person — it was filled with at least two different handwriting styles, the report said. The documents provided no evidence that the suspected cheating had affected any results in athletic competitions.

Questionable judging has long been a part of artistic gymnastics, but it’s a common problem in rhythmic as well. An even bigger one, it appears.

“Judging issues in rhythmic gymnastics are almost as prolific as doping issues in cycling,” Australian rhythmic gymnast Janine Murray, who retired after the London Olympics, told the newspaper.

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