Russia Wins First FINA Water Polo League Final; Russians, Hungarians Docked for Cheating -- August 5, 2002
PATRAS, Greece, Aug. 4. IN a controversial conclusion to the 1st FINA Water Polo World League, Russia scored a 10-8 victory over reigning World Champion Spain.
The final game wasn't controversial, but the fact that Spain was Russia's opponent instead of Hungary was, as just twenty-four hours earlier it appeared that Hungary had earned a berth in the final with a 14-13 win over Russia in the final preliminary game.
That result was nullified, however, by a FINA Executive decision that concluded the two teams cheated, although the basis for the decision was not announced. The FINA decision stated only that the decision was based on the observations of the two referees and the two technical delegates in attendance.
As a result, both Russia and Hungary were given 0-5 forfeit losses, allowing Spain to advance against Russia to the gold medal final instead of the
Hungarians. Russia and Hungary were also fined 50% of their prize money. Neither team made any public comment.
In the gold medal game, the Spanish jumped out to a 3-2 first quarter lead, but Russia stole the second period by outscoring the Iberians 4-1 to take a 6-4 lead at the half and they kept that lead to the end.
The FINA World League Council will meet in October to evaluate the League and set the schedule for the 2003 season.