Speed skating legend Yang says judging is not biased

Updated 2018-02-23 13:52:03 China Daily

China's Fan Kexin was called for impeding South Korea's Choi Min-jeong in the women's 3,000m relay on Tuesday. China and Canada were both disqualified after crossing the finish line second and third. (Feng Yongbin/China Daily)

Chinese speed skating great Yang Yang says Team China 's litany of disqualifications on the ice at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics are not th e miscarriages of justice that many viewers believe them to be.[Special coverage]

China's hopes of speed skating gold have been dashed by a series of penalties in several races at Gangneung Oval, with the women's 3,000 m relay team becoming the la test victims of the judges' rulings on Tuesday when they crossed the finish line second behind South Korea only to be disqualified for impeding.

The decision allowed Italy to claim silver, while Canada was also disqualified as the Netherlands took bronze.

The ruling caused outrage on Chinese social media, with fans venting their frustration and anger at the referees.

But Yang, China's first-ever Winte r Olympics gold medalist an d now a member of the International Olympic Committee, said the officiating was u nbiased.

"Biased penalties are not allow ed," said Yang, who won gold over 500m and 1,000m at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. "If such things happen, the referee will be investigated and suspended.

"The penalties in Pyeongchang are relatively fair. So we should study and adjust to them.

"To understand and adjust to the referees and penalties is part of the competition. The Chinese team has to take lessons fro m the penalties, avoiding t he same mistakes and then striving for medals in the following competitions."

Canadia n short-track legend Natha lie Lambert, now an official with the International Skating Union, also expressed her faith in the fairness of the penalty system.

"This is a misunderstanding of the judging process," said Lambert.

"You have four referees from the women's side and four referees from the men's side. So you have eight referees making decisions. All of them are coming from different countries. No two referees come from the same country.

"There is one referee out of eight that is from South Korea, so it is impossible for South Korea to manipulate the refereeing process.

"I reviewed the race with the referee and I have to say I agree with the referee's decision on all the cases. I don't think it is possible to manipulate the race, and that definitely is not happening."

Yang, meanwhile, encouraged more Chinese athletes to follow her example and join international sports organizations to engage more in the rule-making process.

The ISU council member first ventured into sports officialdom in 1999 and was elected as an IOC member in 2010.

"I really wanted to work for international sports organizations," said Yang.

"Even if it took time from my training, I still chose to come. My team also supported me at that time.

"For the past eight years, as a representative of athletes, I have worked for over ten different commissions. I spent almost 20 years on international sports platforms and I feel that I'm still growing and learning.

"Not too many Chinese athletes are active in such organizations. Some attend meetings only once, but I understand there is a language barrier."

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