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Speed skating: France win gold for worst federation, says Contin

Ewen Fernandez of France leads his team in the final to decide 7th and 8th place in the men's speed skating team pursuit race during the 201
Ewen Fernandez of France leads his team in the final to decide 7th and 8th place in the men's speed skating team pursuit race during the 201

By David Ljunggren

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - French speed skaters did not win a medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics but Alexis Contin believes his federation deserves gold for being the worst in history.

After a disappointing men's pursuit race on Saturday, Contin, who suffers from a thyroid problem, fumed at the French federation of ice sports, which he and his team mates complained had not supported the speed skating program enough.

"By far we won the gold medal for the worst federation in history," Contin told reporters after the three-man French team lost the last place skate-off against the United States.

"There is a very high chance that was the last time you see a French team on the ice ... Qualifying a team for France without support - we did it."

A spokeswoman for the French Olympic Committee declined to comment on Contin's remarks, saying officials would address the matter on Sunday.

Contin, who came fourth in the 10,000 meters at the 2010 Games, was diagnosed with Grave's disease last month. Symptoms include disturbed sleep, muscle tremors and weakness.

He pulled out of all the events in Sochi except for the men's pursuit.

"I had a really bad night and woke up extremely tired and still had to do it for the guys ... it was the hardest race of my life," he said.

"I'm on medication and it's all about getting the hormones in balance again and that takes time," he added, expressing no regrets at having competed on Saturday.

"Of course I'm sick and we can't compete at a high level but I think we really respected the Olympics and shared the true value of it."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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