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Members of the U.S. women's hockey team did not desecrate a Canadian flag at the Salt Lake City Olympics, American and Canadian hockey officials said yesterday after a joint investigation.

Canada beat the United States 3-2 for the women's hockey gold medal on Feb. 21. After the game, Canadian players said they were angered that American players stomped on a flag in their locker room.

U.S. players repeatedly and vehemently denied the rumour.

USA Hockey, based in Colorado Springs, and the Canadian Hockey Association issued a joint statement saying U.S. players had committed no "acts of disrespect" against the flag.

"This is a case of false information being circulated by an unidentified third party," USA Hockey executive director Doug Palazzari said. "There is no question there is a healthy rivalry between the two teams, but there is also great mutual respect."

CHA president Bob Nicholson said a joint investigation showed the rumour was false.

"We congratulate the U.S. team on a tremendous season and look forward to continuing our great relationship with USA Hockey," Nicholson said. AP