This is the text of the "Letter of Protest" to the ISU filed by the Japan Skating Federation on March 13, 2003, referenced in the press release on the JSF web site. Copies of the letter have apparently been circulating privately on the Internet; this one reached me from an anonymous source, with permission to repost it here.
I added the HTML markup manually and apologize for any errors, or if it doesn't quite match the formatting of the original document.
|Text of the letter|
Tokyo, March 13, 2003
To: Mr. Ottavio Cinquanta
International Skating Union
Copy: Members, ISU Council
Members, ISU Figure Skating Technical Committee
Members, ISU Ice Dancing Technical Committee
Members, ISU Synchronized Skating Technical Committee
Members, ISU Honorary Members Club
Dear President Cinquanta:
You will recognize that I am sending this letter to you in my capacity as President of the Japan Skating Federation (the JSF), a unified Member of the International Skating Union representing both the speed skating and figure skating components in Japan. You will also recognize that this letter touches upon topics covered in prior correspondence with you in my capacity as an ISU Honorary Member, but this letter is properly viewed as being separate from that.
This letter addresses matters which are of critical importance requiring the attention of the ISU Council, as well as certain matters over which the Figure Skating Technical Committee, the Ice Dancing Technical Committee, and the Synchronized Skating Technical Committee have duties and authority. For those reasons, copies or this letter are being directed to the members of the Council and to the members of those Technical Committees. As noted above, this letter is completely separate from prior correspondence with you in my capacity as an ISU Honorary Vice President. You have indicated with such correspondence, however, that the topics covered in this letter are properly of concern to the Honorary Members. For that reason, copies of this letter are also being sent to them.
The purpose of this letter is to address three separate but related topics: (1) the project as originally set forth in Urgent Proposal No. 4 and now improperly shown as Paragraph 3 of Rule 121 in the ISU 2002 General Regulations, (2) procedures ostensibly adopted by the Council for implementation of Urgent Proposal No. 29 but actually in violation of Rules previously duly adopted by Congress and still in full force and effect, and (3) interference with the authority of the JSF over international figure skating competitions in Japan, such as the NHK Trophy. The JSF formally, but respectfully, lodges this protest with respect to various aspects of those matters as set forth herein. Those matters require action of the ISU Council pursuant to ISU Constitution Article 17 Paragraph 1, and Article 23 Paragraphs 3 and 5.
The content of Urgent Proposal No. 4 was, however, inappropriately identified in ISU Communication No. 1160 as applying to the General Regulations. In point of fact, the proposal as reported in that Communication related solely and exclusively to those aspects of the sports administered by the ISU which are allocated under the ISU Constitution (including the Procedural Provisions) to the Figure Skating Section. The contents of Urgent Proposal No. 4 should, in fact, have been identified as applying to the respective Special Regulations over which the Figure Skating Section has responsibility.
During discussion on Urgent Proposal No. 4, the President explained that the reason for identifying its content as applying to the General Regulations was that it did not actually set forth a Rule which would govern the sport of figure skating but instead would simply articulate a policy of development and examination of a potential new system of judging. Upon further questions from Members, the President noted emphatically that the Congress was not actually being asked to vote on a Rule but instead merely authorize the ISU to embark on a project (the Presidents own term, used repeatedly).
On multiple occasions during the Fall of 2002, various persons acting in official capacity for the ISU (including as experts retained to work on the project) clearly indicated that the system being developed under the project would be submitted to the 2004 Congress for approval and even in one instance indicated the possibility that the project would not actually be completed even in time for that. On December 27, 2002, the ISU issued a Press Release in which, for the first time, an assertion was made publicly that the Congress had actually adopted a Rule not merely a project. The JSF understands that the ISU President has characterized protests of such announcement as an attempt to re-write history.
In point of fact, the ISUs own documents and records indicate that the attempts to re-write history are those which are evidenced by (a) Rule 121 (as shown in the 2002 General Regulations) including the full text of Urgent Proposal No. 4 as new Paragraph 3 of that Rule, and (b) the December 27, 2002 official ISU Press Release issued under the signature of the ISU President and the ISU General Secretary. That is amply demonstrated by the official ISU Press Releases issued contemporaneously with the Congress and published as such on the ISUs official website. Copies of those press releases (both as originally carried in HTML format prior to the recent makeover of that website, and as published to PDF format by Acrobat Distiller 4.0 for Windows on December 4, 2002 for posting to the remodeled website where they are currently shown) are attached to this letter. In that context, we note the following:
We are particularly troubled by the fact that efforts continue to be made to characterize the project both as a response to judging improprieties which came to light in Salt Lake City and as a bona fide effort to prevent them in the future. As time has passed, evidence has slowly begun to surface which establishes that developmental efforts for the project began at least as far back as the Fall of 2001 and possibly even earlier. Yet never once were the Technical Committees (charged under the ISU Constitution with the duty and authority for overseeing the technical aspects of the sport) even informed of that effort, much less involved in it. Instead, the applicable Technical Committees were consistently instructed to focus on a proposal for computerized evaluation of Judges which was known to be flawed and which was to be supplanted completely by the project.
The Day 1 Press Release:The action taken by the Congress is repeatedly identified as a project which was accepted by the Congress, not as a Rule adopted by it. Even that action was not final as the announcement states that the project would be debated at the Figure Skating Section of the Congress along with other proposals regarding new systems of judging figure skating.
IF (a) Urgent Proposal No. 4 was properly before the entire Congress on the first day, AND (b) the entire Congress approved it as a Rule rather than as a project, THEN the official ISU Press Release would not have announced that the matter would be subject to debate at the Figure Skating Section.
This official ISU Press Release is an unequivocal acknowledgment that when the Congress finished its deliberations relating to Urgent Proposal No. 4 on the first day, the contents of that Urgent Proposal had definitively been properly re-characterized as a matter which could not appropriately be included as a Rule in the General Regulations.
The Day 2 Press Release:As of the close of Day 2, Urgent Proposal No. 4 had still not been considered (much less approved) by the Figure Skating Section, although presentations on proposals for new Judging Systems were announced as to be made the following day.
The Day 3 Press Release:As of the close of Day 3, Urgent Proposal No. 4 had still not been approved by the Figure Skating Section although according to this official ISU Press Release all of the presentations to be made on proposed new Judging Systems had been made -- specifically including that from the ISU, the only one of which was in Urgent Proposal No. 4. Thus, whatever was actually discussed in the Figure Skating Section regarding Urgent Proposal No. 4 was (as specified in the Day 1 official ISU Press Release) all that the proponents of that matter believed to be still before the Congress at that time. That thus excludes any potential that Urgent Proposal No. 4 would actually become a Rule by virtue of actions taken at the 2002 Congress.
The Day 4 Press Release:Discussions and deliberations on the various proposals for new Judging Systems were completed on Day 4. As memorialized in the Day 4 official ISU Press Release, the only proposal which was approved and adopted by the Figure Skating Section was that resulting from debate on Urgent Proposal No. 29 originally submitted by the figure skating Member from Canada. At the end of Day 4, matters originally covered by Urgent Proposal No. 4 continued to be identified in the official ISU Press Release as a project not as a Rule. Conceptual elements outlined for it were similarly described merely as criteria for use in development of such project, not as sub-parts of a newly-adopted Rule.
The 7 June 2002 Press Release -- Conclusion of the CongressThe official ISU Press Release summarizing the results of the Congress shows that the main change resulting from the intensive debate on the Judging System was the one adopted pursuant to Urgent Proposal No. 29. In fact, of course, the system set forth in that proposal merely provided for (1) larger panels of Judges, with (2) a subgroup of those Judges being randomly selected such that the marks awarded by that subgroup would be used to determine the outcome of competitions rather than the marks of the entire panel.
This official ISU Press Release itself characterized Urgent Proposal No. 4 as far more revolutionary than the one actually adopted. Had Urgent Proposal No. 4 actually been adopted as a Rule, that clearly would have been the main change in the judging system. Indeed, it would have been entirely improper in that case to characterize the proposal of the figure skating Member from Canada as being the main change. The ISU itself through this official Press Release continued to identify the matter covered by Urgent Proposal No. 4 as a project. Any attempts following the date of this official ISU Press Release to characterize the provisions of Urgent Proposal No. 4 as a Rule are a fictitious revision of history which does not comport with fact.
Whatever the project was at the conclusion of the Congress, this official ISU Press Release itself identified the key features of it. The otherwise detailed list set forth in this official ISU Press Release does not contain any reference to the component originally included in subparagraph (p) of Urgent Proposal No. 4 and similarly (but quite improperly) reflected as such in Paragraph 3 of Rule 121 as published in the 2002 General Regulations. As an official publication of the ISU, the 7 June 2002 Press Release serves as conclusive evidence that the notion of Congress delegating authority to the Council had long since been dropped from the matter even before it was approved as a project. When the Congress adjourned, the matter remained a project and would become a Rule (if at all) only if properly submitted to a subsequent Congress and adopted by it in accordance with the procedural rules specified in the ISU Constitution.
Other ISU DocumentsThe foregoing official ISU Press Releases are by no means unique in demonstrating that the matter considered by the 2002 Congress in connection with Urgent Proposal No. 4 was approved as a project, not adopted as a Rule. Indeed, that is the only credible interpretation of actions taken at the Congress. The President of the ISU himself consistently asserted both in the press and in his own written communications that, while the concepts of Urgent Proposal No. 4 would be revolutionary, the details of that project were not presented to the Congress, much less approved by it as a Rule.
By way of example, the first written communication on this matter of which we are aware is the memorandum dated 27 March 2002 from the President of the ISU to the ISU Members, Council, Technical Committees and Coaches Commission. At that time, the matter was identified as a project and that it was in the preliminary phase of development. The memorandum recognized that detailed debates on the matter would have to be held at the Congress even to get past that early phase.
If point of fact, of course, there was absolutely no debate held on the various components of Urgent Proposal No. 4 which now appear as Paragraph 3 in Rule 121 as published in the 2002 General Regulations. Moreover, the attachment to the 27 March 2002 memorandum addresses various potential aspects of the system, but the memorandum and that attachment make absolutely no reference to the idea that Congress would be asked to delegate rule-making authority to the Council. Such delegation would itself violate the ISU Constitution as in effect at the Congress. Decisions taken by the Council could properly be included in any Rule (whether in the General Regulations or in any of the Special Regulations) only if the ISU Constitution itself were amended first to permit such delegation. That did not occur.
The presentation reflected in the 27 March 2002 memorandum and in the official ISU Press Releases referenced above continued at least through the letter dated 1 October 2002 from the ISU President to Council members, members of the various figure skating Technical Committees and of the Grand Prix Management Commission, and the Coordinators of the Senior and Junior Grand Prix. The matter originally addressed in Urgent Proposal No. 4 continued to be identified in that letter, long after the Congress had concluded, as being a project. The letter clearly acknowledged that the matter remained in preparation even while expressing a hope that it would be completed soon. In short, it was not a Rule.
That creates a disturbing impression that certain interests (if not the ISU Council itself) are using the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City for achieving a completely unrelated agenda item: abandoning the historic judging system which has been a unique and positive attribute of figure skating. It is not the system which needs changing, it is the ethical conduct of those implementing it which needs to be addressed.
We understand that at least one other Member of the ISU has previously provided written records of the Congress which, among other things, demonstrates that the President of the ISU specifically informed the delegates at the general session held on Day 1 that the action being recommended and taken on Urgent Proposal No. 4 was for adoption of a project and not of a Rule. Such record of the proceedings accurately reflects the recollection of the delegates in attendance representing the JSF as they each are prepared to testify under oath. We also understand that there is a written transcript of the Congress which confirms those official ISU Press Releases and our own understanding of what occurred there.
Communications issued subsequent to the Congress by persons purporting to act in an official ISU capacity have, however, given rise to very serious controversy. Procedures being implemented in connection with the new judging system thus adopted are in direct conflict with (and a violation of) other Rules which were not amended or even discussed at Congress. Those include requirements for the following, none of which are being observed by the ISU in administering competitions under its auspices pursuant to Rule 382 Paragraphs 9 & 10 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 527 Paragraph 9 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 772 Paragraphs 9 & 10 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating):
In contrast with these clearly-specified obligations of openness and accountability, the procedures described in ISU Communication No. 1197 impose a veil of secrecy. At the very least, such secrecy diminishes the function of accountability and creates a serious risk of either eliminating it entirely or creating the perception among competitors, Members, fans, and the press that it had been eliminated. Those procedures are being implemented without authority of the Congress and are in direct violation of the foregoing Rules which remain in full force and effect. The only component of secrecy authorized by the Congress following consideration of Urgent Proposal No. 29 was in the actual process of determining which of the Judges on a panel would have their marks counted when calculating the results. Extending the secrecy beyond such draw -- a term well-understood in figure skating and by the delegates who approved it during the Figure Skating Section meetings of the Congress -- is totally without authorization.
Open MarkingWhether by electronic scoreboard or otherwise, the Rules require that the marks of each Judge must be displayed openly to the Referees and the audience. Display of the range of marks of the Judges as a group does not satisfy that requirement. Display of marks other than by Judge does not meet the requirement of open marking which is fundamental to the Rules and fundamental to preserving the credibility of (a) the sport as being honestly judged, and (b) results calculations (from actual marks) being accurately performed. The only way to satisfy the requirements of Rules which remain in full force and effect following the 2002 Congress when implementing the system set forth in Urgent Proposal No. 29 is to show the marks of all Judges, by individual Judge. It is not necessary to indicate which Judges have been selected by the random draw to have their marks counted in determining the final result. It is also not necessary to show (or read) the marks in the order in which the Judges are seated at the panel, as long as they are always shown (read) in the same order during an event segment and thus always show paired marks of each specified Judge. See, Rule 352 Paragraph 3 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 542 Paragraph 4 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 737 Paragraph 3 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating.
Responsibility of Organizing MemberWhether using manual results calculation or electronic (or both), the Organizing Member is responsible for the accuracy of the results. That responsibility cannot be delegated by the Organizing Member to an outside contractor as the Rules do not permit that. Moreover, the ISU Council cannot relieve the Organizing Member of its obligations under the Rules -- much less require the Organizing Member to abdicate that responsibility completely. Quite apart from the integrity of the outside contractor specified for that purpose by the ISU Council (which is not questioned or affirmed here), the procedures which have been implemented through IceCalc assures that the Organizing Member does not even have access to the raw data necessary to fulfill those obligations. See, Rule 353 Paragraph 6 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 543 Paragraph 6, (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 738 Paragraph 6 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating Figure Skating).
InspectionIf results are calculated manually, the Rules require that the forms used to calculate such results must themselves be open to inspection, and that means that the actual marks of actual Judges must be shown. The procedures specified in ISU Communication No. 1197 prevent that and, as such, eliminate manual calculation and require that electronic computer calculation be used.
Of course, the Rules do permit computer-only calculations of results but only if the Rule regarding such calculations is followed explicitly. Among the requirements of that Rule are the one referenced above: that the Organizing Member be responsible for the accuracy of the results, including the computer software and the data entry. Even in that case, however, the function of inspection is preserved as the marks are displayed openly to the Referee and the audience as referenced above. See, Rule 357 Paragraph 4 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 547 Paragraph 4 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 742 Paragraph 4 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating).
ProtocolThe Rules require that the a protocol must be published at every competition conducted under the auspices of the ISU. Among other things, that document is required to include the final order of the competitors with particulars of their placings, marks and points [emphasis added]. See, Rule 366 Paragraph 1 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 550 Paragraph 1 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 752 Paragraph 1 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating).
Event Review Meeting / Classification ListThe heart of ISU Communication No. 1197 is elimination of all procedures relating to the Event Review Meeting which would make it possible for a Referee to identify improper conduct of Judges such as was determined by the Council to have occurred during the Pairs event at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games held in Salt Lake City. Specifically, the Rules continue to require that the Referee conduct the Event Review Meeting in the context of having examined, and having delivered to all of the Judges, a copy of the classification list. See, Rule 412 Paragraph 3 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 583 Paragraphs 3 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 809 Paragraphs 3 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating).
The content of the classification list is specified clearly and requires that the placements of all Judges be shown with respect to each competitor. Indeed, the Referee is not able to fulfill the obligations specified in the Rules if that information is not provided. While the classification list as illustrated in the Rules only shows placements and not marks, the Referee must have access even to those in order to complete the annotated form of the classification list which the Referee the Rules require to be included in the Referees combined report. See, Rule 420, Paragraphs 1, 2, 5 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating), Rule 587, Paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing), and Rule 814, Paragraphs 1, 2, 5 and 6 (2002 Special Regulations Synchronized Skating).
The experience at Salt Lake City should have served as a catalyst for taking actions to minimize (or even prevent) the chances that judging impropriety would ever again occur. Instead, the procedures specified in ISU Communication No. 1197 merely minimize (or even prevent) the chances that such impropriety would ever again become public. There cannot be any basis for asserting that was the intention of the Congress.
Those procedures are thus based on assumptions that (1) a specified level of impropriety on the part of the Judges will occur and, instead of seeking it out and punishing it, the system should merely minimize the impact of such impropriety, and (2) delegates at the Congress recognized that and affirmed their willingness to tolerate minimal levels of impropriety rather than seeking to prevent it at all. The first assertion is a blatant violation of all principles of sportsmanship and cannot be sustained if the integrity of the sport and the international federation administering it is to remain intact. The second assertion is not supported by any evidence whatsoever and is a direct affront to the integrity of the Members and their commitment to the integrity of the sport.
It is at best curious that the ISU delayed until the year-end holiday season to issue Communication No. 1197. The procedures were actually implemented at various of the ISU International Competitions and at all of the competitions comprising the Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Indeed, they had previously been described in the notice dated September 5, 2002, from Mr. David Dore which had the effect of preventing proper observance of Event Review Meeting procedures at the Nebelhorn Trophy. That notice was actually delivered to the Referees of that competition two days later, as they were about to implement the procedures actually specified in the Rules. A copy of ISU Communication No. 1197 and that notice from Mr. Dore are attached to this letter of protest.
It is also worth noting that the letter from the ISU President dated 1 October 2002 referenced above specifically indicated that the procedures for identifying, assessing, and sanctioning judging anomalies would be the system as printed in the ISU book. That apparently was a reference to the 2000 Constitution, General Regulations, and Special Regulations, as the corresponding books for 2002 had not yet been printed and circulated. Of course, such printing and circulation had occurred well before ISU Communication No. 1197 was issued. Even if the reference by the President had been to procedures set forth in the 2002 rule books, ISU Communication No. 1197 directly contravenes those provisions as set forth above.
In addition to lodging a formal protest for both the procedures described in ISU Communication No. 1197 and Mr. Dores notice and the method by which they were established, this letter will serve as a formal demand that the ISU cease and desist from implementing the procedures as thus described in ISU Communication No. 1197. This letter also serves as notice that a failure to do so will constitute willful and wanton disregard by elected and appointed officials of the ISU of their obligations under the ISU Constitution. As such, those actions are a violation of the laws governing the organization and operations of the ISU and are grounds for removal from office in addition to any civil sanctions that may be available under applicable law.
In that context, we remind you that experimental systems such as that being developed under the project may be utilized in such International Competitions only to the extent permitted under Rules 367 of the Figure Skating Special Regulations and Rule 551 of the Ice Dancing Special Regulations. Those rules set forth specific procedural requirements which must be met, one of which is that an application must be submitted to the appropriate Technical Committee requesting such experimental use. The only party authorized under the ISU Constitution to submit such application is the Organizing Member of the competitions. See, ISU Constitution Article 1 Paragraph 3, and Article 6 Paragraph 3.a). Rules 367 and 551 themselves recognize that the obligations attendant to use of such experimental system falls to the Organizing Member.
The JSF is the Organizing Member for the NHK Trophy, one of the Grand Prix events. As such, it communicated to Mr. David Dore at the recent Grand Prix Final its reluctant agreement to submit the applications specified in Rules 367 and 551 in order to permit testing of the project system at this years NHK Trophy, but would do so only if all other Organizing Members of Grand Prix events do likewise and the applications to do so are all approved. We have not yet decided whether such application would be for exclusive use of the project system or for parallel use with the system specified in the 2002 Special Regulations Figure Skating and the 2002 Special Regulations Ice Dancing or, if the latter, which of the two systems would be used to determine the official outcome of the competition for purposes of awarding the NHK Trophy even if the project system is used for purposes of determining those competitors qualifying for next years Grand Prix Final. We also recognize that the matter may be moot as we understand that the figure skating Member from the United States has posted a notice on its official website to the effect that the project system cannot be implemented in any competition (presumably including Skate America) unless and until specified conditions not currently present have been met. We will separately contact that Member to confirm this matter before any decision is made by the JSF with respect to use of the project system at this years NHK Trophy. The JSF similarly reserves its right to include proper conditions in any application which it might submit under Rules 367 and 551.
The ISU Council may not be aware that the JSF raised several troublesome issues regarding the implementation of procedures at the NHK Trophy last year which were conducted through IceCalc at the instruction of either the ISU or the Secretariat of it. The serious issues raised in those communications were not properly handled by the Secretariat. We now recognize that the procedures thus imposed on the NHK Trophy essentially corresponded to the ones subsequently described in ISU Communication No. 1197.
The ISU Council is aware that no Member following those procedures is able to verify and confirm the accuracy of the results as is otherwise provided under the Rules (see, section 2 above, Responsibility of Organizing Member). We specifically note here that the JSF accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the results for that NHK Trophy.
a. The Council formally advise the Members of the ISU either that presentation of the Project as Paragraph 3 of Rule 121 (2002 General Regulations) was an error, or that it simply failed to include the following introductory text immediately after the paragraph number and before the subparagraphs:
"The ISU will engage the services of experts to work on a project to develop a new judging system for figure skating based on the following principles and components: ..."
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, please note that failure by the ISU Council to conform actions being taken in the name of the ISU to the requirements of the ISU Constitution and Rules as set forth or referenced herein will be deemed by the JSF to be an exclusion of the Members (including the JSF) from the ISU activity preserved to them by the ISU Constitution: governance of the ISU. See, ISU Constitution, Article 22 Paragraph 1.
We further note that our review of the formal Minutes of the 2002 Congress recently delivered to us has not been completed. When it is, the JSF may elect to raise separate concerns as to the accuracy of them, including with respect to matters addressed in this letter. Also without limiting the generality of the foregoing reservation of rights, we specifically reserve the right to present such concerns to the ISU Council or in any other appropriate proceeding pending at such time.
The members of the JSF Council are quite certain that they are obligated to the JSFs own members and officials to take all prudent actions to preserve the rights and authority of the JSF under the ISU Constitution and Rules. The JSF is also a national governing body under the Japan Olympic Committee and has obligations which it must meet in order to maintain that status. For those reasons, a copy of this letter and the attachments to it are simultaneously being provided to the Japan Olympic Committee for potential referral by it to the International Olympic Committee.
We will look forward to a prompt reply to this letter followed by fulfillment of all conditions described herein in order to render this protest as having been properly addressed and resolved. If that will not occur, we will then look forward to a prompt notice of an official decision by the ISU Council to that effect so that we can then review and assess all other rights and remedies available to us to require that the administration of the ISU comport fully in all matters with the ISU Constitution and Regulations, the laws governing the organization and administration of the ISU, and the Charter of the International Olympic Committee.
In light of its obligations to the members and officials of the JSF and to the Japan Olympic Committee, the JSF reserves the right to post this letter of protest on the official website maintained by the JSF for the benefit of its members. If a decision is taken to do so, the JSF similarly reserves the right to post the official response of the ISU Council to, and potentially any other communications by ISU officials on matters covered by, this letter of protest.
Japan Skating Federation
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