After five months of horrifying news, it was refreshing to escape briefly into the world of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier and their quest for the gold medal [Winter Olympics, Feb. 25]. Their venture had everything: a talented, attractive pair of figure skaters reaching for their dream, an obstacle to it and finally (like the made-for-TV movie that will surely come) a storybook happy ending. I know they had a few difficult days, but their tale of triumph overcoming adversity was like a minivacation for this American's battered psyche.
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While I won't disagree that the corruption in Olympic judging needs to be seriously addressed, I question the decision to give the Canadian figure skaters a gold medal in addition to the one won by the Russian pair Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. What would have happened if the situation had been reversed and the Russians had challenged the judges? Nothing. The controversial resolution of awarding two gold medals was obviously aimed at pleasing the American press and public, and it reeked of cold war residue. It is rather symptomatic of the nation of plaintiffs that is America. Your cover headline should have read, injustice triumphs.
Even a rank amateur like me could tell that the flawless performance of Sale and Pelletier was better than the wobbly exhibition put on by the Russian pair. The Canadians should be congratulated not only for their skating performance but also for their poise and sportsmanship during and after the controversy.
Competitions are about winning and losing. In defeat, the Canadian skaters made it clear that they did not deserve the gold medal. I give their whining performance a 5.2.
COURTNEY R. JOHNSON
Sale and Pelletier are to be congratulated on the professional way they handled the unfortunate judging incident. The proper outcome should have been for the Russian pair to concede the gold and accept the silver medal. Naturally, this did not happen. It is time to clean up Olympic judging. Athletes give their heart and soul in competition, and they deserve to be judged fairly.
CONSTANCE K. QUINN
There is a saying: those who cannot lose will never win. Gold medals cannot be covered with mud, no matter how hard somebody tries to dirty them. And silver medals don't turn into gold, no matter what somebody tries. The Canadian pair surely understand that they got their consolation medals just to calm down the crowd.
The resolution to the pairs-skating fiasco was the right one. Both teams had been done an injustice. Although Sale and Pelletier earned the gold, it would have been a miscarriage of justice to take it away from the Russians after it had been presented to them. It was a wise call to award a medal to each team. Figure skating is an art. That's why I watch. But something needs to be done about the manner in which it is judged to avoid disputes in the future.
JOHN P. FARRIS
--The controversy over the judging of pairs skating extended to the pictures in our story. Some of you felt the Russians got shafted by ugly photographs. "I am disgusted by the blatant partisanship evidenced in your photos of the Russian figure skaters," declared a New Yorker. "You must have searched high and low for the least flattering pictures you could find." A Vancouver, B.C., reader shared the sentiment. "Surely, out of the hundreds of shots available, you could have published a more complimentary one of Anton Sikharulidze. Shame on you!" The cover portrait of the Canadians, however, got a round of applause. A San Franciscan called it "a real standout. It makes you want to reach out and invite these kids over for dinner. If they decide to get married, it should go on page 1 of their wedding album."
New Rules of the Game
TIME is apparently so captivated by the campaign-finance-reform bill that its unconstitutionality is of little concern [Nation, Feb. 25]. You state that "interest groups will no longer be able to use soft money for radio or TV 'issue ads' that attack candidates just before a primary" but that "groups could still make the attacks through a variety of other means." The bill states that corporate- and union-treasury money may not be used for broadcast ads that mention a federal candidate (what you call attack ads) for 30 days before a primary or 60 days prior to an election. This is an obvious violation of the First Amendment's free-speech clause.
South Daytona, Fla.
Corporate influence over the American political landscape has ruled supreme for far too long, and with the Enron scandal in plain view, the people know it. Change is coming in Washington, and I hope it will lead to a government that has no strings attached.
Newport Beach, Calif.