CHARGED With drunken driving, 1992 Olympic figure skating gold
medalist Viktor Petrenko, near his home in Simsbury, Conn.
Petrenko, 34, crashed his Mercedes-Benz SUV into a utility pole
and, according to police, failed several field sobriety tests. He
refused a breath test, resulting in an automatic suspension of
his license for as long as six months. Petrenko, a native of
Ukraine, is among a group of figure skaters who moved from former
Soviet republics to train in northern Connecticut in the
mid-'90s. They became familiar figures at rinks, gliding
gracefully among rambunctious youth hockey players and performing
at local venues. They have also become regulars on the police
blotter for drunken driving offenses. In '97 Oksana Baiul, 1994
Olympic gold medalist from Russia, crashed her Mercedes into a
tree in Bloomfield, Conn., and was charged with drunken driving
and reckless driving. The charges were dismissed after Baiul
completed an alcohol education program. Last Aug. 31 Alexei
Yagudin of Russia, the 2002 Olympic gold medalist, was arrested
in Avon and charged with drunk driving. Yagudin, 23, was placed
in an alcohol education program, and his arrest will be expunged
if he completes the program. Petrenko is due in court on Feb. 9.

PLANNED By University of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman, a
special committee to investigate allegations that the school has
used sex parties to lure football recruits. Football coach Gary
Barnett and athletic department officials have denied the
allegations, which first surfaced publicly in April 2002. But
last week Boulder District Attorney Mary Keenan, in a deposition
for a civil rights suit filed by one of three women who allege
they were raped during a party for recruits three years ago, said
the university ignored warnings Keenan made in 1997 about the
alleged parties. (No criminal charges were ever filed.) Governor
Bill Owens said last week he would "take whatever steps are
necessary to protect the integrity of the university" if the
school does not properly deal with the matter.

DIED Of kidney failure, Eleanor Holm Whalen, 90, the 1932 Olympic
100-meter backstroke champion who was thrown off the '36 U.S.
team for carousing with sportswriters on the ship that took the
team to Berlin. Winning the gold had brought her a measure of
notoriety: She had bit parts in several movies and she sang--in a
cowboy hat and a bathing suit--in a band led by her husband at
the time, Art Jarrett. But being bounced from the team after
breaking curfew by playing dice and drinking with the press made
her a celebrity. She starred in Tarzan's Revenge and swam with
Johnny Weismuller at Rose's Aquacade during the 1939-40 New York
World's Fair. Eventually she settled in Miami with her third
husband, oil executive Tom Whalen, who died in 1984, and in '99
she was invited to the White House, where she told President
Clinton, "You're a good-looking dude." In 1994 she said on CBS,
"It all turned out so beautifully, you know, after I got over not
winning the gold medal [in '36]. I had a wonderful time. I've had
a wonderful life."

ELECTED By the Iraqi National Olympic Committee, 11 officers in
what is the country's first step toward fielding a team for the
2004 Games. Last May the IOC suspended the Iraqi committee, which
had been run by Saddam Hussein's son Uday--who reportedly kept a
torture chamber in the committee headquarters for athletes who
underperformed (SI, March 24, 2003). The installation of officers
shows "how far Iraq has come in the last nine months," said the
committee's new president, Ahmed al-Sammarai, a former basketball
and track star who was an Iraqi army general before spending 20
years in exile. The IOC plans to meet as soon as late February to
discuss lifting the ban. Said al-Sammarai, "We will build
swimming pools and stadiums in place of prisons and torture


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