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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official Criticizes 'Judge Mafia'

Russia's gymnastics chief Leonid Arkayev has added his voice to a chorus of public opinion calling for major reforms in his sport, saying Olympic gymnasts are powerless against what he called "judging mafia."

The gymnastics competition in Athens has been embroiled in controversy over judging decisions, prompting Russia to lodge a forceful protest with International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge on Tuesday.

"A judging mafia rules gymnastics," Arkayev, president of the Russian Gymnastics Federation and the country's chief coach, was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Sovietsky Sport newspaper.

Several current and former gymnasts have called for a major change in how their performances are judged following a spate of disputed medals that have tarnished the sport.

Monday's final on the horizontal bar at the Olympic Indoor Hall was brought to a standstill as the crowd jeered and booed the judges for giving Russia's Alexei Nemov low marks.

"Nemov had six release-and-catch maneuvers while Hamm only one. Even a blind person can see who is better," Arkayev said.

"And what do we see? The American gets a 9.812. It doesn't come close, but no one can say anything."

"Probably I should not say this but I cannot be silent anymore. [Judging] is a mafia! We're powerless to act against them because they feel they are simply untouchable."