by Alexandra Stevenson
Didier Gailhaguet, the longtime President of the French Ice Sports Association, is claiming it was his idea for Marina Anissina, 37, & Gwendal Peizerat, 41, to return to ice dance competition, with the aim of taking part in the Sochi Olympic Games. Talking to reporters from France's most popular Sports Newspaper, L'Equipe, he claimed, "I have been trying to get them to come back to competing for France ever since they left the sport after winning gold in 2002 (as part of a huge judging scandal which was investigated by the FBI). I suggested it for 2006 and 2010 and I'm delighted I have finally persuaded them."
The International Skating Union censored Didier and a French judge, who were deemed to be part of a complicated conspiracy agreement between France and Russia in which the Russian judge in the 2002 Winter Olympic ice dance event would help get the gold for Anissina & Peizerat in return for the French judge's help in getting the Russian pair gold ahead of the Canadian pair. The French judge broke down over the deal and, spewing tears, confessed to the British referee Sally Stapleford. That resulted in a huge scandal and led to the Canadians being upgraded from silver and being classified as joint winners of the gold.
Anissina has back-tracked a little since the initial plan for their current return was revealed. She now states that, first of all, there has to be adequate sponsorship to cover their training expenses. The French Sports Ministry is said to have agreed to partial monetary support. Marina, who competed initially for Russia, before she moved to France to skate with Peizerat. She has held a French passport since they competed for France in the 1994 Olympic Games.
Their former coach, Muriel Zazoui, appeared stunned when asked about the development. She eventually said, "The rules have changed so much since 2002. Coming back would require an enormous amount of work. I know Gwendal realizes this. I don't think Marina appreciates just how very different the sport is now, how much more athletic it is now. I wish them good luck. I know the audiences would enjoy seeing them again.