Welcome the World Skating Federation

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Call it the ISU Coup.

Call it either a great moment in the history of the sport or just more figure skating dirty laundry piled higher and deeper.

Whatever you call it, some of the most credible people in the figure skating community dropped the big one on Ottavio Cinquanta and the International Skating Union here yesterday.

A new organization - the World Skating Federation - was unveiled in an attempt to claim the sport from the hold of speedskating and short-track politicians and to rid it of all that is corrupt.

With a background of the war in Iraq and the World Figure Skating Championships blocks from the White House, a who\'s-who of figure skating made the bold move to bring down their own regime.

At one moment attempting to cleanse their sport with honest and candid comment on the levels of corruption and the degree of secrecy preventing any accountability in judging, the WSF stated a mission to provide the sport rocked by so many scandals with integrity.

The idea is to break the sport away from the ISU and for skaters, coaches, judges and associations and, finally, the International Olympic Committee to recognize the WSF as the governing body of figure skating.

\"Our sport has lost credibility with the fans and the media. We will not sit by any longer and watch the ruination of our sport,\'\' said U.S. skater Paul Wylie at the press conference.

Featured were longtime judges and referees the likes of Sally Stapleford of Great Britain, acting WSF president Ron Pfenning, Britain\'s John Nicks, who is coaching at his 33rd Worlds, former champions and famed American commentators Dick Button and Scott Hamilton.

SUPPORTING THE MOVEMENT

Via video, former Edmonton Royal Glenora skaters Kurt Browning, Kristi Yamaguchi and the pairs team which was the centre of the Salt Lake Olympic judging scandal, Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, also threw their support behind the movement.

While the new federation claimed U.S. association endorsement through Pfenning, USFSA international chairman Jon Jackson and USFSA VP Ted Clarke, a USFSA executive committee statement issued following the press conference said \"it would be inaccurate and untrue\'\' to suggest that.

Pfenning called it \"coming face to face with the ugly truth. Collusion and corruption in our sport can no longer be tolerated.\'\'

Stapleford said she believes the federation will find support from all athletes, most coaches and a majority of judges.

INTEGRITY AND HONESTY

\"It\'s about integrity and honesty. Complete transparency. No secret hidden marks,\'\' she said of the system being used here this week where no judge can be tied to the marks issued, such as by Marie Reine Le Gougne of France on the pairs panel at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Button talked about the \"tap-dancing judges\'\' caught on tape and suspended.

\"Those judges are back, but Jean Sempft isn\'t,\'\' he said of the Canadian judge who blew the whistle on the game of footsie and hasn\'t judged internationally since.

\"One of them was from Ukraine and is now judging here for Israel. How did that happen? A Russian living in Moscow is judging for Belarus. Deceit is rampant. Secrecy is everywhere. There is no vision,\'\' continued Button.

As for the new judging system proposed for next year, Button said it was \"the ISU putting a clean shirt over dirty laundry.\'\'

Nicks called the anonymous judging and lack of accountability \"an appalling system - an abomination.\'\' He added \"the last two or three years has been more than I could swallow. It\'s been sickening for me.\'\'

\"The emperor of the ISU has no clothes,\'\' Pfenning said of Cinquanta adding the ISU boss wants \"future corruption never again to become public. It\'s not the scoring system which is the problem, it\'s the person awarding the scores.\'\'

Zero tolerance for those caught cheating is also a prime point.

\"Cheaters shouldn\'t get three years or six months and be back,\'\' said Stapleford. \"You wouldn\'t give a teller who robbed the bank their job back at the same bank. Judges have to be totally independent from their national associations.\'\'

\"This is the first day in the rebirth of our sport with honesty and integrity. Figure skating has reached a fork in the road,\'\' said Pfenning.

Maybe the WSF will fly. Maybe it won\'t. But at the end of the day, what he says has to be true. If it isn\'t, stick the fork in them all, because figure skating is done.


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