French epee team gets gold

The French men's epee team claimed the title of Olympic champion after beating Poland 45-29. But the French expressed disappointment when officials refused a last-minute substitution, preventing one fencer from receiving a medal.



BEIJING, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Men's team epee Olympic champions France criticised officials for not allowing them a substitution in the final, preventing one of their fencers from receiving a gold medal.


In the second to last round of the final against Poland, French fencer Jerome Jeannet said he injured his wrist and demanded to be substituted with Jean-Michel Lucenay.


"I fell on my wrist," Jeannet said. "I could hold the epee but if you hit it I couldn't do anything."


Officials, however, deemed the injury not serious enough and did not allow a substitution. France won 45-29, but since he never fenced in the tournament, Lucenay did not receive a medal.


"The victory is mine too, it belongs to all of us," Lucenay said. "We've worked so hard together."


French coach Stephane Riboud said Lucenay should have received a gold medal along with higher-ranked team mates Jerome and Fabrice Jeannet and Ulrich Robeiri.


"For me Jean-Michel is an Olympic champion just like the others," he said. "They should be equally compensated for the work they put in together for years and years."


In the bronze medal match officials allowed Italy a late substitution when individual Olympic champion Matteo Tagliariol said he pulled a muscle and was replaced by Stefano Carozzo.


Carozzo fenced only two touches and received a medal as Italy beat China 45-35.


"It's not a grave injury and I'm happy that Stefano could get a medal," said Tagliariol, who limped into a news conference.


Poland also had four men on the podium as Robert Andrzejuk fenced the final instead of Adam Wiercioch, who featured in the quarters and semi-finals.

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