/ |

IOC deserting duty with failure to act on skating scandal

by Jack Gallagher

IOC president Thomas Bach seemed to dismiss concerns about the huge controversy caused by the judging in the women’s singles at the Sochi Games at a news conference on Sunday.

When asked about the issue, Bach pawned it off on the International Skating Union and acted like it was no big deal.

Really?

“If there should remain (any) doubt that even this system is not enough to eliminate conflicts of interest, we would of course be very much interested to consult with the international federation,” he said. “As of now we have confidence in the system.”

This is the typical kind of pontificating you see in sports and politics — especially when the two clash like they did in this case.

Bach also related how he had a meal in the Olympic Village with one of the athletes — who happened to be a figure skater — and they didn’t think the judging that resulted in Russian Adelina Sotnikova’s victory over Yuna Kim was unfair.

Not exactly a scientific sample is it?

Bach did not reveal what country the skater he dined with hailed from, but the point is that he was trying to ignore something that badly marred what had otherwise been a very successful Winter Games.

The German’s lack of concern or compassion for what happened to Kim was disappointing to say the least.

The problem with people that get into these high positions is that they never want to rock the boat. They want to present this image of everything being serene, even though it is anything but.

Bach and the IOC are no doubt hoping that the controversy will blow over, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

How does he think the people in South Korea feel about it?

They and Kim were robbed in front of a global television audience in what was a total disgrace.

With the 2018 Games set for Pyeongchang, I think Bach should be more sensitive to the feelings of the next hosts of the Winter Olympics.

What bothers me is that the IOC is the governing body for the Olympic Games, this scandal happened on its watch, but yet it refuses to take any responsibility for it.

How can you call it a legitimate competition when millions around the world watched the farce unfold on Thursday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace?

Saying it is the ISU’s problem is just a convenient way of passing the buck.

The reality is that many of the federations and the IOC are too close, literally and figuratively, which makes enacting any kind of reform measures difficult.

Where is the IOC located?

Lausanne, Switzerland.

Where is the ISU based?

Lausanne, Switzerland.

It would seem to me that if the IOC wanted to be taken seriously, it would demand that the ISU reform so that a regrettable chapter like we saw last week at the Iceberg Skating Palace is never repeated.

Here is just one example of how lopsided the result of the event looked to people watching. ESPN did an online poll in the United States asking readers to vote for who they thought won the women’s singles.

The results:

Yuna Kim — 92 percent

Adelina Sotnikova — 6 percent

Carolina Kostner — 2 percent

Kim won the poll in all 50 American states.

Could everybody be that wrong?

Could their eyes have all deceived them at the same time?

Impossible.

I spoke with a prominent skating journalist in the Main Press Center on Sunday and she summed up the scandal pretty succinctly.

“The fix was in from the start,” she said. “Once they saw that (Julia) Lipnitskaia couldn’t win the gold, they just backed Sotnikova.”

I must say that I breathed a huge sigh of relief prior to the men’s short program the week before when Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko pulled out with an injury.

Why?

Because I was very worried that what we saw happen in the women’s singles, would happen in the men’s. That if Plushenko skated, he would somehow emerge with wildly inflated scores and a deserving champion like Yuzuru Hanyu or Canada’s Patrick Chan would be denied the title.

When I mentioned this concern to another writer following the controversy that saw Kim deprived of a second Olympic gold medal, he didn’t blink with his reply.

“You better believe that Plushenko would have won if he had skated in the singles,” he said. “There is no way he would have lost.”

But the president of the IOC, one of the most powerful positions in global sports, doesn’t think there is a problem?

Outrageous.

  • gail

    Whole world has seen that who is the true winner ! Only the judges in sochi haven’t..
    Queen yuna, she is the true champion in my heart. I’ll always remember you.
    thanks for great and beautiful performance in sochi.

  • gail

    Whole world has seen that who is the true winner. Only the judges in sochi haven’t.
    Queen yuna, She is the true champion in my heart. I’ll always remember you as Queen. Thanks for great and beautiful performance in sochi..

  • nina

    IOC once again proved how ignorant they are and the lack of respect they have for figure skating. If this is what figure skating is all about, I don’t see the point in watching the “show” ever again.

  • Chris C

    This article is so accurate

  • Jessa Peake-Bay

    dont forget that the ice dance competition was also rigged as well

  • Sophia A

    Listen.. I’m Korean-Canadian.. And feeling doubly screwed(Canadian pair skating rumor even before the competition started). But I also feel like Mao really really deserved higher score and so did Gracie Gold. They didn’t just rob Yuna Kim.. They screwed over a lot of hard working athletes and made fool of lot of loving audiences. That’s what I’m pissed off most about.

    • Factual

      Mao was in 16th because she messed up the short. A Non issue and Gold was overscored.

      • Guest

        As a non-professional(admittedly), didn’t the Russian screw up too? And I think I’ve read arguments that the score was based on the difficulty of the program and not on artistry or the perfection, shouldn’t that have awarded Mao higher than Russian’s? Regardless I’ve always loved her passion for skating.

      • HirosFan

        I think she’s referring to fairer scoring in general. Just because you finish off the podium doesn’t make unfair scores okay. Also, the competition wasn’t just the short program. Mao skating a near flawless free skate with a tougher program yet scored seven points below Adelina.

  • Factual

    Learn the sport and be quiet. The two Soviet judges cheated. Facts are above

  • carrie

    Just because a sport is judged doesn’t mean that it’s a toss up and anybody can win. The evidence pointing towards a fix is that Sotnikova won by a 5 point margin despite making a mistake, and she had the second highest score in figure skating history. Even though her defenders argue she had the more difficult skate, Mao Asada’s free skate was technically superior so by that logic Asada’s free skate marks should have been higher. Furthermore Yuna Kim’s short program was technically harder than Sotnikova’s and yet they virtually tied.

    A sport that is judged doesn’t mean that a lack of consistency is okay and anything goes. That undermines the credibility of this international sporting event.

  • Yoonshik

    People would not dedicate their time and energy if they think that no matter what they do, the winner is determined by factors outside their control. This figure skating scandal is a total shame and comedy that should have never occurred in the 21st century. I feel enraged because justice is gone and corruption triumph. I am thanksful for journalists like you trying to set the history right.

  • ScoreRigging

    I saw a video on youtube
    claiming that the PCS scores were almost certainly fixed ahead of time for Kim
    and Adelina because a competition under COP has never taken place in which the
    top two competitors finished within half a point of each other in PCS score,
    yet the difference in this competition was an UNPRECEDENTED between Adelina and
    Kim was .06 in the short and .09 in the long; therefore, it seems possible that
    the judges. predetermined a PCS score for Mao that was based on her season’s
    average which is around 69.6, which backfired on the judges because it was her
    all time best skate, thus obviously appeared lowballed. Asada is the one who is
    most severely punished by this rigged result because she is the only one who
    seems to have been obviously lowballed in order to give Lipnitskaya a chance to
    leapfrog her, though it took an utterly ludicrous PCS of 70, a total that is
    above Asada in her best skate WITH FALLS, and about 8-9 POINTS above her
    seasons average to do it. Surely, the Japanese must be outraged by this
    stinginess for such a grand performance by Mao because I as an American surely
    am. If that is not biased or rigged judging, I don’t know what is.
    None of the younger skaters who finished above Asada had even scored 190
    during the Grand Prix season or had any prior professional championships. If
    Asada had earned the score she deserved for her stellar LP- a little over 200-and Gold,
    Lipntiskaya and Sotnikova had been judged fairly without an absurd 12-20 point
    increase in PCS, ridiculously high GOE’s, except for Gold who was only inflated
    in PCS, and the Russian tech judge hadn’t completely disregarded
    under-rotation, edges, flutzes, and hadn’t given Level 4 step sequences to
    everything the Russians did, Asada would have earned a bronze for her high
    scoring LP. This suggests Russian and American collusion, as was done in the
    Ice Dance and Team’s Competitions. It was a set up that began with score
    inflation at the European Championship and Russian National Championship to
    make the ludicrous results appear more plausible by incrementally increasing
    the PCS number, but people aren’t buying it because they can see the absurd
    numbers don’t match what their eyes actually witnessed. Scored fairly, I
    am confident the results would be: 1. Yuna Kim 2. Kim Costner 3. Mao Asada, just as
    they were at World Championships last year.

  • lee

    This is so heart breaking for Yuna Kim. Imagine how Virtue and Moir feel, having experienced this for the last two years. I hope I live to see the day when a new skating union is established.