This is somewhat lengthy, but read on. I got the article from if anyone is interested.

Skaters form World Skating Federation

TSN - The Sports Network

WASHINGTON (CP) - The formation of the World Skating Federation, aimed at displacing the International Skating Union as the governing body for figure skating, was announced Tuesday amid charges the sport is being ruined by inept leadership and that new judging systems are an abomination.

"More than a year has passed since the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal," said 1992 Olympic silver medallist Paul Wylie. "We have watched as our sport has lost credibility with fans and the media.

"We have looked to leadership within the ISU for much-needed reforms. None have been forthcoming. We will not sit by any longer and watch the ruination of our sport."

Named acting president of the new federation was American Ron Pfenning. The longtime judging referee was released by ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta from those duties last week after a running feud over the introduction of a complicated new system that provides anonymity to judges by not identifying them with marks they give skaters.

The news conference was over for only one hour before a major discrepancy arose.

Jon Jackson, chair of the United States Figure Skating Association's international committee and one of those at the head table, announced that he'd obtained endorsement in principle of the new federation from the USFSA's executive committee. But the committee quickly released an unsigned statement under association letterhead a denial to reporters in the MCI Centre covering the world championships.

"It would be inaccurate and untrue for anyone to suggest that the USFSA leadership has endorsed the proposed new entity," it stated.

No Canadians were among those at the head table in a downtown hotel although Canadian judge Jane Garden was listed in printed material as one of the founding members. She has no Skate Canada role during these championships. Pfenning said he's yet to approach Skate Canada about abandoning the ISU and joining the World Skating Federation.

"In the planning stages, Canadians have participated in the development of the World Skating Federation," he added.

Pam Coburn, chief executive officer of Skate Canada, said in an interview she has no information on the new organization. Once the world championships are over, "We'll find out what it's all about."

Sally Stapleford and Donald McKnight, the presidents of figure skating federations in Britain and Australia, respectively, were among those at the head table, as were former Olympic champions Dick Button and Scott Hamilton, who remain close to the sport as TV commentators.

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the 2001 world ISU champions and 2002 Olympic pairs co-champions, and Kurt Browning, a four-time world ISU champ, were the Canadians among pro skaters pictured on a video presentation endorsing formation of the federation. Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt and Todd Eldredge also had strong endorsement statements.

"The idea the WSF has is putting the focus back on the skaters and that's what it's all about," said Sale. "There is no time to waste."

"They had many chances to fix the sport (but they did not)," Pelletier said of the ISU leadership. "The ISU is not a democracy.

"You either walk the line or get kicked out."

Browning said he wouldn't want a son of his choosing a sport which, because of questionable judging, wouldn't give him a fair chance.

"I want to be part of the change," he said.

The ISU, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, is the world governing body for figure skating and speed skating. The figure skating side includes more than 80 countries.

Respected British coach John Nicks, a former world ISU champion himself, said he can't understand why a former speed skater, Cinquanta, would have any control over figure skating. He also called the judging system an "appalling abomination."

"The last two or three years have been more than I can swallow," said Nicks, who was also among those at the head table.

Button griped about light penalties against cheating judges. He couldn't believe that Alfred Korytek of Ukraine, who was disciplined after a making foot-tapping signals during the ice dance event at the 1999 world championships, is on the pairs panel this week.

"Deceit is rampant," said Button. "There is no vision in this sport."

The new federation would suspend cheating judges for life. It would also cut the link they have with their home federations, making them accountable only to the federation and not to the countries in which they were trained.

On the interim ISU judging system, said Button, "The ISU put a clean shirt on over dirty laundry."

A video clip shown of Cinquanta was overlaid with printed descriptions of the Italian as hopelessly out of touch and hopelessly misleading.

Melvyn Weiss, introduced as counsel for the World Skating Federation, said he's putting together a consortium of lawyers internationally "to free the sport of corruption."

As it is now, the athletes "are prisoners of an organization that they believe to be corrupt."

Hamilton said the ISU was obsolete and said the new judging "is sweeping things under the rug."

"Skating is a brilliantly cut diamond," he said. "In the last five or six years the ISU has been eliminating facets from this beautiful diamond.

One of the first moves by the new federation was to send an urgent fax to Jacques Rogge president of the International Olympic Committee informing him of the group's birth.

"Members of the WSF would like to meet with you in the near future to fully inform you of our goals and objectives," Pfenning wrote. "We believe that the WSF will soon become a respected member of the Olympic family, strongly demonstrating the ideals for which the IOC stands."

Cinquanta declined immediate comment.

The organization's founding members with ISU credentials for this week's worlds were wondering if Cinquanta would yank their credentials.

Coburn didn't jump on the anti-Cinquanta bandwagon, mentioning some of the "novel ideas" he's implemented. The sport imploded in Salt Lake City, she said, and any debate on improving it should be welcome.

"Out of all of this something great is going to happen," said Coburn. "Everything is getting on the table, and it's about time."

© The Canadian Press, 2003