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Badminton Stirs Controversy, Phelps Breaks Medal Record


Belarus's Alesia Zaitsava (not connected with the scandal) plays against Indonesia's Adrianti Firdasari during their women's singles match.
The Badminton World Federation has charged eight Olympic double players with misconduct after apparently attempting to "throw" their final preliminary matches on July 31.

The four pairs of women -- two from South Korea, one from China, and one from Indonesia -- made constant errors, leading to allegations that they attempted to lose in order to have easier games in the knockout rounds.

The four pairs, who have already qualified for the quarter-final, could face disciplinary action.

Spectators at the Wembley Arena shouted abuse and jeered at the players as they missed shots and served into the net. South Korean head coach Sung Han-kook admitted four of his players attempted to lose against China's world champion duo and an Indonesian team. He said it was retaliation against the Chinese team who instigated the farce.

The head of the Indonesian Badminton Association, Erick Thohir, however, insisted that his team came to London "not to lose medals" but to win them.

He said the Badminton World Federation "should take charge and study it, because judgment is very important. You have to do an investigation first, and a thorough investigation.

"It happens many times also in Indonesian Opens, but of course the authority isn't in the Indonesian Badminton Association, it is with the big boys."

According to the International Olympic Committee's code of ethics, participants "must not, by any manner whatsoever" attempt to "influence the course or result of a competition."

First Ukrainian Gold

Meanwhile, Day 5 of the London Games saw Great Britain win its first gold medal of the Olympics when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning stormed to victory in the 2,000-meter women's pairs rowing competition.

In front of 25,000 cheering spectators, the two British women crossed the finish line with a time of 7 minutes, 27.13 seconds, followed by Australia and New Zealand.

Ukraine, meanwhile, won its first-ever Olympic gold medal in rowing on August 1 when its women's quadruple sculls beat Germany. The Ukrainians crossed in 6 minutes, 35.93 seconds. The United States took bronze. Germany did win gold on August 1, in the blue-ribbon men's eight.

In other news, London 2012 Games chief Sebastian Coe said on August 1 that American swimmer Michael Phelps was "probably not" the greatest Olympic champion of all time, despite winning a record total of 19 medals.

Coe said he could name many athletes that could be on considered the greatest, including Steve Redgrave, the retired British rower who won gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 to 2000, as well as a bronze medal in 1988.

Coe also named Daley Thompson, a former decathlete from England who won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984 and broke the world record for the event four times.

Phelps eclipsed the previous record of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's 18 medals, when the United States won gold in the 4x200-meters freestyle relay at the aquatic center on July 31.

Record Medal Haul

Phelps has won 15 Olympic gold medals in his career along with two silvers and two bronzes. Nine of Latynina's 18 medals were gold. She ended her Olympic career after winning six medals -- two of each -- in Tokyo in 1964.

Phelps tied Latynina when he won silver in the 200-meter butterfly. But the race was a shock defeat for Phelps. Having led the entire race, Phelps glided to the wall after his final stroke and was out-touched by South Africa's Chad le Close.

Speaking after winning the gold medal on July 31, Le Clos said he still could not believe he had beaten Phelps, his longtime idol.

"Michael Phelps is my hero and I just wanted to race him in the final and I just wanted to win so bad," he said. "I can't believe it."

Medals Up For Grabs

Medals to be won on August 1 include events in archery, basketball, volleyball, boxing, cycling, fencing, handball, hockey, judo, and tennis.

Among the highlights is the men's heavyweight boxing event, which will see Turkmenistan's Teymur Mammadov, Russia's Artur Beterbiev, and Iran's Ali Mazaheri in action.

The men's archery will see Iranian athlete Milad Vaziri Teymoorlooei and Ukrainian Viktor Ruban in action, while the women's event will include Russian Ksenia Perova and Ukraine's Lidiia Sichenikova.

The men's 90-kilogram judo event will involve Kazakhstan's Timur Bolat, Turkmenistan's Elkhan Mammadov, Russia's Kirill Denisov, Uzbekistan's Dilshod Choriev, Iran's Parviz Sobirov, and Ukraine's Roman Gontiuk.

In the men's third-round tennis, Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin will play world No.1 Roger Federer of Switzerland, while four Russian women will battle for a win that will take them to the fourth round.

With reporting by the BBC, dpa, Reuters, and AP