Banned Ukrainian coach denies rule violations

15:40, 22 July 2008
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Her charges are among Ukraine`s best prospects for August`s Olympics in Beijing

Ukrainian rhythmic gymnastics coach and former world champion Irina Deryugina, banned by the international governing body until 2016, denied breaking any rules and demanded top officials step down, according to EuroSport.

Deryugina, who won four gold medals and three silvers at world championships from 1977 to 1979, is accused of influencing judges and exhibiting unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Her school has produced Olympic champions, including 1996 all-round winner Ekaterina Serebrianskaya, and her charges are among Ukraine`s best prospects for August`s Olympics in Beijing.

Deryugina said International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) officials had tried for six months to persuade her to apologise for the alleged violations -- the details of which have yet to be disclosed -- or quit the FIG`s technical committee.

"The leaders of the international federation, despite a complete absence of any violations on my part, have taken an illegal decision against an elected member of the technical committee," she said.

"Just what am I entitled to do now? I call on the leadership of the FIG, and in particular the president and secretary general to resign immediately."

Deryugina said she had appealed the ruling.

The head of Ukrainian`s gymnastics federation said the allegations were "artificially created" as part of an early fight for medals in Beijing.

"There are no real incidents over which Irina Deryugina can be incriminated, no documents ... They simply do not exist," Viktor Korzh said.

"Unfortunately, we see here an example of an undemocratic approach. Far from everything is in order in European structures. A real fight for Olympic medals is under way, well before the Games open."

Both Deryugina and Korzh pledged the incidents would have no effect on Ukraine`s gymnasts and said they remained favourites for top honours in Beijing.

A FIG statement this week said Deryugina had infringed several points in the code of discipline, including acting "in such a way so as to influence the course or the result of the competitions in an improper way".

She was barred from taking part in any FIG event up until the end of 2016.

Reuters, EuroSport

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