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17 Jun, 2008 00:57

Russian gymnastics coach faces ban from Beijing games

The International Gymnastics Federation is due to reveal its verdict in the case of Russia coach Irina Viner, who is accused of breaching its disciplinary code.

The Federation (FIG) has not released details of its case, but if found guilty she could be banned from leading Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Viner, the coach of Russia’s rhythmic gymnastics team, appeared before a hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sunday.

“My position is normal, I'll answer whatever they will ask me,” she said.

After the hearing, Viner added: “They explained what they had against me. I explained my position and I think they accepted it – I hope so. I'll describe everything in detail when a decision is taken.”
In April, the Ukrainian coach Irina Deryugina was disqualified for eight years after the FIG found her guilty of charges including trying to influence the outcome of competitions.

So former Russian gymnastic champions as well as some journalists have suggested that the federation is trying to weaken two of the world’s best teams before the games, giving a greater chance of victory to other teams.

But FIG officials say the two cases aren't related.

Viner did not wait for the verdict and headed straight back to Russia to continue work with her team before the Beijing games.

Russian MP and former Olympic champion Alima Kabaeva, who was one of Viner’s star pupils, described the case against the coach as a “complete nonsense”. She said that the coach was always kind to the girls and added that Viner was responsible for Russia’s outstanding results in rhythmic gymnastics.