Less than a week ago, in writing about the future of the ISU, it was noted that some ISU members were considering taking action on questions relating to how Rule 121 and Communication 1197 came into being, and courses of action ISU members had open to them to challenge ISU management's interpretation of the congress' actions.

On 13 March 2003 the Japan Skating Federation (JSF), which is the governing body for both speedskating and figure skating in Japan announced that its federation Council had unanimously voted to file a protest with the ISU over Rule 121 and Communication 1197.

The JSF announcement includes the following items.

  1. The JSF protests the improper presentation of Rule 121, paragraph 3 in the ISU 2002 Constitution and General Regulations, saying that official ISU documents demonstrate that the matter was considered by the Congress and approved as a "project," not as a Rule.
  2. The JSF points out that delegation to the ISU Council of the authority to adopt Rules (as paragraph 3.p. of Rule 121 purports to do) would be a violation of the ISU Constitution.
  3. The JSF protest that ISU Communication No. 1197 dated December 27, 2002, both (a) specifies procedures in violation of the Special Regulations for Figure Skating, Ice Dancing, and Synchronized Skating, and (b) purports to be a repeal or amendment of those Rules by the Council without action by the Congress and without authority under the ISU Constitution.
  4. The JSF stated "The experience in Salt Lake City should have prompted the ISU to take action to minimize (or even prevent) the chances that judging impropriety would ever again occur. Instead, the secrecy procedures set forth in ISU Communication No.1197 merely minimize (or even prevent) the chances that such impropriety would ever again become public. That is offensive to the fundamental principles of sports and a violation of the ISU Constitution and Rules."
  5. The JSF also stated that "it will submit an application under Rules 367 and 551 for use of the 'project' system at the NHK Trophy, but will do so only if all other Organizing Members of Grand Prix events do likewise and only if all of the applications for such use are approved in accordance with those Rules."
  6. "The JSF has not yet decided whether an application thus submitted by it under those Rules would be for sole use of the 'project' system or in parallel with the system specified in the existing Rules. The JSF has specifically informed the ISU Council that the JSF accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of results for the NHK Trophy conducted this past year under secrecy procedures subsequently described in ISU Communication No. 1197.
  7. "The JSF is hopeful that submission of its letter of protest will be followed by prompt and decisive vote of the ISU Council withdrawing and rescinding the actions identified in the JSF letter as violating the ISU Constitution and Rules."
  8. "The JSF intends to remain seized of this matter."

In taking this action, the JFS has courageously and unambiguously stood up for honesty, fair play and the rule of law in the governance of international figure skating.

In addition to coming out against the improper imposition of Rule 121 and Communication 1197, the JSF goes much farther, criticizing the ISU for not adequately addressing ethics, accountability and honesty in the aftermath of Salt Lake City, and stating that it considers the use of secrecy in the interim system contrary to the best interests of skating -- going so far as to call it "offensive to the fundamental principles of sports."

In regard to the potential testing of the proposed ISU system during the Grand Prix series next year, the federation states it will only use the proposed system if all the Grand Prix Organizing Members (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, United States) agree to likewise and only if the decision is made in accordance with the rules.  The JSF said it has yet to decide if it would support the proposed system as the sole system used during the Grand Prix or as a system used in parallel with the current system as a test.

In its statement, the JSF disavows any responsibility for the accuracy of the results from the recent NHK competition due to the element of secrecy included in the interim system.  This remarkable statement indicates the JSF recognizes that the secret selection of random judges has compromised the accuracy and integrity of the results.  So much so they will not take responsibility to guarantee the correctness of the results.

In its announcement, the JSF states that it is asking the ISU Council to rescind "the actions identified in the JSF letter as violating the ISU Constitution and Rules"; i.e., Rule 121 and Communication 1197.

The last point made by the JSF (which clearly did not translate well) indicates the JSF is committed to pursuing its protest and sucessfully resolving the issues it has raised.

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Copyright 2003 by George S. Rossano