Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Splinter group to challenge union's rule
WASHINGTON -- Scott Hamilton, Dick Button and other
prominent names in figure skating are challenging the role of the
International Skating Union as the sport's governing body.
Unhappy with ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta and his
organization, the newly formed World Skating Federation has
contacted International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge,
asking for a meeting.
"An environment has been created where there are no ethical
constraints on corruption,'' Ron Pfenning, a top judge who is
acting president of the WSF, said Tuesday.
But the IOC, of which Cinquanta is a council member, said it has
no plans to meet with WSF executives.
"The IOC recognizes one international federation for each sport
and, as far as skating is concerned, it is the ISU,'' IOC
spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. "There is no plan to change
anything. It's not on the agenda at all to change things.''
IOC recognition, however, will be critical in the WSF's quest to
remove the ISU as the governing body for figure skating.
"I would hope whatever position Ottavio holds on the IOC would
not sway Mr. Rogge in looking at this,'' said Hamilton, the 1984
Olympic champion and a leading voice in the sport. "The IOC's
endorsement is gigantic.''
The U.S. Figure Skating Association said in a release it "has
had neither the time nor the opportunity to review the proposals
offered by those seeking to create a new world figure skating body.
As such, it would be inaccurate and untrue for anyone to suggest
that the USFSA leadership has endorsed the proposed new entity.''
The WSF would be involved only with figure skating; the ISU also
oversees speedskating. Cinquanta is a former speedskater.
"There is no vision in this sport at this moment,'' said
Button, a two-time Olympic champion and one of the sport's leading
producers and commentators. "The ISU has put a clean shirt over
Cinquanta would not comment. ISU special events coordinator
Peter Krick said Tuesday that no comment would be made until after
the world championships.
Other influential skating figures involved in the WSF are Sally
Stapleford, a former chairwoman of the powerful ISU technical
committee; Sonia Bianchetti, an Olympic-level judge since 1964 and
the first woman elected to an ISU office; world-renowned coaches
John Nicks and Kathy Casey; 1992 Olympic silver medalist Paul
Wylie; and Jon Jackson, chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating
Association's international committee.
Jackson raised concerns after the Olympics that Cinquanta might
try to let the Salt Lake City controversy die rather than
investigate it fully. WSF members said they believe that is exactly
what has happened.
"We must rebuild some integrity back into the sport,'' Pfenning
Pfenning was dismissed last week as referee of the women's event
at the world championships, which began Monday. Pfenning resigned
from the ISU's powerful technical committee on Friday.
Pfenning has been one of the more outspoken critics of
Cinquanta, and he also was at the center of the Salt Lake City
Olympics figure skating scandal. As referee of the pairs
competition, Pfenning revealed that French judge Marie-Reine Le
Gougne said she was pressured to vote for the Russian couple rather
than the Canadians.
Recently, Pfenning told Cinquanta he thought the ISU Council had
abused the judging process by eliminating judges' post-event
discussions of marks.
Skating has been struggling to regain its credibility since the
Salt Lake City scandal, and a furor over the interim judging system
hasn't helped. Critics say its anonymity protects shady judges, and
the USFSA opposes it.
Jackson said the group already has commitments for close to
$200,000 in funding, all from private donations. But that isn't
anywhere near the amount it will need to become a viable
alternative in the sport.
Jackson projected a budget of $750,000 to $1 million "is what
we think we would need to be self-sufficient.''