Figure skating judging still open to controversy, says Dick Pound

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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VANCOUVER - Figure skating has not resolved the problem of judges being in a conflict of interest, an issue that could cause controversy during the Vancouver Olympic Games, Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said Tuesday.
"Your judges are appointed by national federations and are beholden to them for being there," said Pound, who is also a member of the board of directors for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee. "They have to judge the way their national federations want them to judge."
Pound also doesn't like that, under the current system, people don't know the marks awarded by individual judges.
"If you are a judge, I don't know what mark you have given in all of this," he said. "I think it's important that any judge be prepared to justify a mark that he or she has given to an athlete."
Pound would prefer the International Skating Union, figure skating's governing body, select judges for major competitions like the Olympics and world championships.
"In my opinion the ISU should appoint officials on the basis of demonstrated capability," he said. "You are an ISU judge. You are not a Canadian judge. You have no nationality.
"And, you have to be accountable for your marks, not hide under some shield of anonymity."
A judging scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games involving Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier resulted in a drastic change in how points are awarded in figure skating.
Under the new Code of Points, the old system where a skater could be awarded a top score of 6.0 was erased. There also are 12 judges instead of nine.
The new system is more complicated and uses computers. Point values are assigned to certain moves.
Pound said the changes don't solve all the potential problems.
"The electronic system relies on a judge pushing a button," he said. "The mechanics don't dispose of the conflicts."
The new judging system was used at the 2006 Turin Games, but Pound isn't convinced it has removed the potential for controversy at the Vancouver Olympics.
"Any time there is a competition judged on that kind of basis, the possibility exits," he said. "The stakes in the Olympics are so enormous that the risks are high at the judging level."

Organizations: International Skating Union, Canadian IOC, Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee Vancouver Olympics

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Salt Lake City Games

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