The German federation held a press conference at the Nebelhorn Trophy, and I've translated the Yahoo article about it. See the Blazing Blades blog for Oct. 10.
(Or see below.)
I have no idea how this quagmire will be resolved, but at least it seems that the federation now has some reasonable leadership!
Steuer Case Burdens Crisis-Shaken DEU
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2006
Oberstdorf (dpa) – Legal actions concerning the Stasi-encumbered coach Ingo Steuer will occupy the financially strapped German Skating Union (DEU) for the entire winter at considerable cost.
“It could even take years in court; it could almost result in a Bosman ruling,”said the new DEU president, Dieter Hillebrand, during the disappointing (from a German standpoint) Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf. [See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosman_ruling for info on the Bosman ruling.] Furthermore, Steuer has a claim on the table that the DEU owes him a bonus payment on the order of 80,000 Euros for his success with European silver-medalists, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.
“The bonus claim appears too high to me, but we won't get out of it,” commented Hillebrand soberly. The retired chief of police of Upper Bavaria took over the federation, which was on the brink of insolvency, in July. Instead of concerning himself with the athletic future of the one-time German jewel among sports, he's dealing exclusively with the restructuring of the federation and with Steuer. The former world champion and his pair have indicated their intention to go to court before every competition to sue for the pair's right to have their coach with them. The DEU will not nominate Steuer for any future event and will simply wait for the legal decisions.
“There could be a rethinking in all of German sport with regards to the autonomy of the federations. Unfortunately, it's happening on the back of the DEU,” said Hillebrand, who actually expects an appeal from the other side. Despite the legal battles, Hillebrand absolutely has understanding for the situation of the Chemnitzers: “We don't have a bad relationship with Steuer or his pair; we can understand their position.”
The unending saga is getting increasingly less understanding from others, who, because of the financially precarious situation, are no longer getting support for training courses. The DEU is now hoping to at least get federal support for coaching. “We need full-time skilled personnel to get this competitive sport onto a more solid footing,” said DEU sports director Udo Doensdorf, who would abolish the old bonus system for coaches.
The plan for a potentially national “next generation” development coach is long term. The short term looks bleak: all elite athletes are fighting injuries and illness, for instance, Stefan Lindemann (viral infection) and the ice dance siblings Beier, who haven't been on the ice in months due to tendon problems. Even Savchenko/Szolkowy, in light of the extreme stress, can hardly be relied upon to medal internationally.
The only good news is that the Junior World Championships in February can be held in Oberstdorf despite great problems and the finances are slowly improving. The DEU sold its headquarters in Munich to the German Hockey Federation and is moving into the offices of the German Speed Skating Federation (DESG). In the future, the executive director of the DESG, Michael Talermann, will also deal with the interests of the DEU. “That'll be a great help; then I'll be able to concentrate on athletic issues,” said Doensdorf.