It's the bribery scandal all over again, and the real culprits will "skate" once again.
The reason the first scandal occurred was because IOC officials had offered their votes for sale and made it clear that merit didn't count as much as the quantity and quality of personal "gifts" to member of the
selection committee. But they weren't the ones put on trial.
Despite all the ugliness in the past, these games began gloriously, full of the spirit of sportsmanship, good will and cheering for the great performances. Until Monday night.
Then the corruption within the international Olympics organization raised its ugly head again and muddied the spirit and thrills of these games. Nationalism asserts itself, and winning medals for ones country by hook or crook becomes the goal.
Judging figure skating is subjective, and everybody has to accept that there will be differences of opinion about matters of grace and beauty. But when it comes out that judges' votes were traded for nationalistic
purposes, the basic point of the Olympics is violated. Peace and good will becomes secondary to winning medals at any cost.
There has been a lot of cynicism about these games. I felt it, and had pretty much decided that it was all about big money and hype. But the athletes and the efforts of the volunteers and experts had overcome that
impression. I felt a real desire to get back to the sense of celebration of sport and clean competition. Now, the International Skating Union has blown it to smithereens, and there is no way to recover it, at least as it regards figure skating.
The medals awarded to the Russians will be forever tainted, and if the results were changed, the gold medal given to the Sale and Pelletier would be, as well. Ottavio Cinquanta, the ISU president, reacts
haughtily and testily to the accusations, and says the judges are unaccountable to anyone. He seems offended that anyone questions their decisions, regardless of whether they were dishonest.
Apparently the ISU hasn't figured out that its prestige and the prestige of the Olympics is threatened by even the hint of such practices. Of course, they don't have to take orders from anybody. They are, as one writer put it, the Olympic gods. But they must realize that this all depends on the public perception of complete fairness and best judgment, free of favoritism or back room deals. Once they lose that perception, they are done. The audience will be gone, and they can rail against us, the uninitiated amateurs, all they want, but nobody will care.
It appears to me that the Olympics and the skaters themselves need to create a new body to conduct these competitions and to provide honest judges, who do not represent nations, but the highest standards of the