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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.