Is it time for the ISU to start banning dangerous people from the sport? | Golden Skate

Is it time for the ISU to start banning dangerous people from the sport?

Kris135

On the Ice
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
I think that the ISU needs to really to start looking at handing out bans for people are truly dangerous to other people. The sport needs to truly needs to start protecting the athletes that participate in the sport. We have heard of skaters being abused by coaches, officials, and even other skaters. This year's past worlds we had one skater being creditably accused of sexual assault, a coach that had been linked to 2 major dopping cases and has been accused of being abusive on top of that, and quite a number of coaches who have been accused of mentally and emotionally abusing their students. This needs to stop. The ISU could create a code of conduct that everybody in the sport has to follow. Basic rules on how people should treat one another. Anybody who violates the rules will get a ban either for a period of time or permanently depending on facts of each case brought to a board that the ISU should set up to hear cases. Give the accused due process but the people who violate the rules will be.banned from participating in the sport. This will do more to protect skaters than knee jerk reactions. A hotline should be set up to allow skaters and other concerned individuals to reach out for help because even the best of cases it has been taking years to ban people from organizations like safe sport, and skaters should not have to wait that long to get real help from someone. It is sad that has to come to this but I am tired of watching skaters suffering in silence while they are being abused by others. I love this sport I want positive experience for all that involved in it, but for far too many it turns into nightmare of suffering and pain . That needs to end and it needs to start now
 

icewhite

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Dec 7, 2022
Yes, of course.
Although I fear it could lead to some countries trying to shut down any rumours and allegations to keep their "best" coaches and skaters.
But yes, things definitely need to change and it can't be that people can just move countries (or even only rinks) and go on with what they do. Especially since the athletes are so young and there are enough crazy parents out there who do not care.

There are two or three other aspects here, though: One, I am always troubled by the term "sexual misconduct" or "sexual abuse", when it's about rape. Maybe/likely it has to do with English not being my native language, but here it would be spelled out: rape. And while I don't want to diminish all the other forms of unwanted touching, texting, words, in my eyes this always sounds like a juge euphemism. I know it's just the legal/bureaucratic term for it, but I think media could spell it out as rape. This is a serious criminal offense.
Which brings me to my next point, it is disappointing that many of these cases are dealt with by "safesport" and limited bans, when they should be dealt with by police and judges most of all. It is very sad that many victims are not encouraged to go to the police, get all psychological help in doing so, and that if they do they are often not believed. But that's not figure skating to sort out directly.

What figure skating - everyone in a responsible position and especially the ISU - can do, is change the mentality in the sport. Of course there are abusers everywhere, especially sexually.
But I think the level of systematic abuse in figure skating is something else. It is so common. It is so accepted. Mentality is hard to change.
What could be done, starting now, from above, in my opinion, is reducing the number of "needle eyes" and the strict hierarchy. There should not be so many positions of people who hold this power to make or break your career. Skaters should be able to find structures to train and succeed elsewhere if they leave an environment or speak out against someone. People abusing their power by trying to push serious offenses or reports under the rug should be punished and pushed from their positions, too.
 

lariko

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Jan 31, 2019
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What icewhite had said, plus the referees and medical teams need to get far more power to act during competitions to show that it is unacceptable to compete with grave injuries, and that it is unacceptable to carry on a program when the health is threatened, on adrenaline, particularly in juniors. Changing rules is all nice and good, but the culture and narrative of false heroism should be stopped. Athlets don't need to dupe the audience into a show of perfect happiness when they are shot full of painkillers or carry on a program to the end at a risk of a permanent health damage.

Coaching method that systematically gaslights the athlets from the early age to ignore their body signaling through pain or fatigue should be condemned and eradicated over time.

I mean, in this respect, allowing backflips is a step back. Do we all need to see someone to break their neck under bright lights and in HD to decide it was a bad move?
 
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Joined
Jun 21, 2003
[Rape] is a serious criminal offense...it is disappointing that many of these cases are dealt with by "safesport" and limited bans, when they should be dealt with by police and judges.
This is the crux of the problem. Organizations like safesport, the ISU, national skating federations, and local clubs are not the police or a court of law. They are ill equipt to deal with the requirements of criminal law.
 

noskates

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Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Math - agree, but they do have laws of their own they can uphold and banning someone for a lifetime is effective and should hopefully be a deterrent to others doing the same things. By that I mean, if you're been a competitive figure skater and/or coach for most of your life and that's taken away from you......that's pretty punitive. Then it's up to the victims to pursue criminal charges. And therein lies the crux of the matter. You can't blame anyone but the victim and their families for NOT following up with police action. I realize that's easier said than done and many won't have the courage to do that (understandably) but without that testimony the chances of charges being upheld are pretty slim. I think the collective "we" have to create an atmosphere where the victim doesn't feel a negative and embarrassing stigma because of what happened to them and feels safe and supported to go the police route. Again, easier said than done.
 

4everchan

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The ISU could ban people but it has to start locally. Athletes need to feel heard and that starts with the parents, coaches, clubs and organizations like safe sport. Without proper culture change at the grassroots level, things will not get any better. And, of course, the issues seem big In figure skating for us figure skating fans but it is everywhere.
 
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el henry

Go have some cake. And come back with jollity.
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To answer the question, in American law we have a concept "Recognition of Judgments". Mostly it is applied to enforcing judgments from one state in another, so we are still in the same country, and that is convoluted and difficult. As appealing as a worldwide ban might be, I cannot imagine the procedural difficulties.

Also, the language in SafeSport is measured for a reason: to give SafeSport the power to issue the bans necessary for safety This is not a law imposed by an elected officials, but a code of conduct agreed upon by sports bodies. So it needs to be measured enough to be agreed upon by those sports bodies. This ban works because Delilah had to agree to the code to coach in the US. Which means USFS had to agree to the code.

Naming and shaming is not as important to me as keeping dangerous and deluded people out of positions of power over skaters. Ideal world, both, sure, but this is not an ideal world.

Delilah will never be able to do to ofher skaters what she did to Tarah Kayne. I'm taking that as a positive. :pray:
 

TallyT

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Apr 23, 2018
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Australia
You can't blame anyone but the victim and their families for NOT following up with police action.
Not again...

Yes. You can. You can blame everyone who looks the other way, who victim-blames, who allows the innocent and terrified to be smeared and hounded and insulted - in public - who supports officials and judges and lawyers who do this and who don't. really. care. except for virtue-signalling after the fact (anyone who doubts this, go back and look at the Coughlin threads here, or forums that blew up over that equestrian abuser some years back). You can blame every single person who insists that without hard evidence (what, they want photos?) it can't be proven so why don't the victims stop ruining good people's lives. You can blame those fans who would rather cheer a shiny medal-winning surface, and get angry when they are forced to glimpse what is below it. You can blame the sport's entire damn culture for making it easy for abusers to get the power and support they need to intimidate the young and vulnerable (the argy-bargy over age differences in pairs anyone?) I wasn't abused as a youngster - thank god - but I was bullied and I know how desperately afraid victims are. Not only of the people doing it, but just as much of everyone around who might - and in the case of sexual abuse, in oh so many cases will - add their own form of judgemental, holier-and-more-moral-than-thou, why-are-you-too-cowardly-to-speak-up-against-all-the-adults-with-all-the-power abuse.

And anyway, in cases like Sappenfield and abusive coaches, how would going to the police help?What she - and a couple of foreign coaches I won't name but we all have heard how cruel they are - did wasn't probably strictly illegal. It's in the hands of the ISU and the Feds, and they have dragged feet even when victims have ended up destroyed.
 

el henry

Go have some cake. And come back with jollity.
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whole post


This is exactly what @noskates said IMO: it is understandable why victims don't file complaints with the police.

But if they don't file complaints, police can't do anything.

It is true that what Dalilah did does not violate any US criminal laws of which I am aware, which is why SafeSport as currently constituted (if it were adequately funded and staffed) is a good idea. Of course, jumping off and not directed at you, everyone wants to complain about timing of investigations, but no one wants to fund.
 

saine

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Jun 11, 2023
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Canada
Although I fear it could lead to some countries trying to shut down any rumours and allegations to keep their "best" coaches and skaters.
Or they see it as a way for other countries to take down those 'best' coaches and skaters. I've seen people speculate that allegations were due to other countries wanting to take down skaters. It's ridiculous thinking, but that's how people think about allegations when they come out. That's even what some of the accused have said about the allegations against them.

At this point, countries aren't even on the same page for how they deal with allegations. OSIC only started publishing individuals who are sanctioned in March, and even then it's only the reports that they received from the Canadian federations that are participating that OSIC is willing to publish. Volleyball looks like more of a problem than hockey in Canada based on the registry. Parents won't know when they send their kid to an abusive hockey coach right now.

Ideally I would hope that with the amount of cross-border competitions that happen in Canada and the US for various sports, OSIC and SafeSport would cooperate. They'd have to get agreements in place, take into account different privacy laws and other bureaucratic matters. But the culture would have to get to the level where no one would think about accusations being some form of retaliation.
 

TallyT

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Apr 23, 2018
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Australia
What icewhite had said, plus the referees and medical teams need to get far more power to act during competitions to show that it is unacceptable to compete with grave injuries, and that it is unacceptable to carry on a program when the health is threatened, on adrenaline, particularly in juniors. Changing rules is all nice and good, but the culture and narrative of false heroism should be stopped. Athlets don't need to dupe the audience into a show of perfect happiness when they are shot full of painkillers or carry on a program to the end at a risk of a permanent health damage.

Coaching method that systematically gaslights the athlets from the early age to ignore their body signaling through pain or fatigue should be condemned and eradicated over time.

I mean, in this respect, allowing backflips is a step back. Do we all need to see someone to break their neck under bright lights and in HD to decide it was a bad move?
I think this is a different thing, since to be honest it is all too often the skater themselves who is being reckless with their health, not so much abuse and being reckless with health is a part of elite sport (a stupid part, so often). It could I guess be handled by giving independent medical teams the power to simply overrule the athlete and their coaches/team where necessary (in 2014, there didn't seem to be anyone who could actually overrule Yuzuru and Han Yan when they insisted on going on after the collision, Brian Orser made that clear.) And if an element is deemed dangerous, attach serious penalty points.
 

TallyT

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Apr 23, 2018
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Australia
This is exactly what @noskates said IMO: it is understandable why victims don't file complaints with the police.
I admit, the word 'blame' does hit one of my bad buttons, I think it should never be used in respect to the victims because for too many years, decades, centuries it really, really was. Maybe we need a better way to phrase and fashion encouragement for victims to come forward.

It is true that what Dalilah did does not violate any US criminal laws of which I am aware, which is why SafeSport as currently constituted (if it were adequately funded and staffed) is a good idea. Of course, jumping off and not directed at you, everyone wants to complain about timing of investigations, but no one wants to fund.
Agreed.

Also, TPTB could encourage those who see and know of abuse (hey, those skaters and others Sappenfield supplied sexual gossip to! They surely knew it was awful, but again... maybe too scared/intimidated to say so? or was it just par for the course at that rink?) to speak out directly to the abusers and the officials surrounding them? (I am not blaming these other people, again it's hard when a person in power is that aggressive and we don't know their position in the power imbalance.)
 

Magill

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Joined
Sep 23, 2020
I admit, the word 'blame' does hit one of my bad buttons, I think it should never be used in respect to the victims because for too many years, decades, centuries it really, really was. Maybe we need a better way to phrase and fashion encouragement for victims to come forward.


Agreed.

Also, TPTB could encourage those who see and know of abuse (hey, those skaters and others Sappenfield supplied sexual gossip to! They surely knew it was awful, but again... maybe too scared/intimidated to say so? or was it just par for the course at that rink?) to speak out directly to the abusers and the officials surrounding them? (I am not blaming these other people, again it's hard when a person in power is that aggressive and we don't know their position in the power imbalance.)
I admit using the word "blame" in the context of "you can't blame anyone but the victims and their families..." was shocking to me too. Even if it was just an unfortunate selection of words.
Agree with each one of your posts. Looking away and sweeping under the carpet is a huge part of this sport's culture. IMHO, first of all, this needs to change, for any more essential change to be even possible.
 

Kris135

On the Ice
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Delilah will never be able to do to other skaters what she did to Tarah Kayne. I'm taking that as a positive. :pray:
What is now stopping her from moving to another country and starting to coach there? Safe sport has banned her from coaching in the United States and that great in my opinion but they have no power to stop her from just moving to another country where the National Figure Skating Federation will not care and will.start up again like nothing happened. The ISU is not the best organization to deal with this issue but it could be the last line defense to protect skaters from real harm from certain people. The bans should not be handed out without great care, but some people should not be allowed in the sport period. In many cases skaters are being abused by others and their National Federations do not care as long they get the results they want for them. Even in Federations that do care mistakes can happen. Like Gracie having to face her assailant at Skate America and having to withdraw as a result at the very least the ISU could step in and assign the accused and the accuser to different Grand Prix events so both parties can compete in peace. Look the hotline that should be in place where skaters and other concerned people could reach out to get help when they can not get relief from anywhere else. Creditable accusations should be investigated and action should be taken to protect others from harm. Some of the ones I would pick for getting bans are Delilah, Eteri, and Mr. Kerry to start off with. The ISU has the power to ban anyone from being allowed to be involved an any ISU events.and hopefully the National Federations will follow the ISU lead. Something needs to be done protect athletes and should be done now .
 

saine

Medalist
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Jun 11, 2023
Country
Canada
The ISU is not the best organization to deal with this issue but it could be the last line defense to protect skaters from real harm from certain people.
Ideally they should be the best organization to deal with the issue. But they need the same culture change that the federations do considering these quotes from ISU Vice-President Benoit Lavoie about Richard Gauthier after his conviction for sexual assault in August 2023 (source):

«Il a une expertise qui pourrait être utile à Patinage Canada», a assuré M. Lavoie.

He has expertise that could be useful to Skate Canada according to Benoit Lavoie. That's how the ISU Vice-President feels about a man who was convicted for sexual assault and was permanently expelled from Skate Canada for that reason.

Why would skaters feel comfortable with the ISU dealing with the issue if that's how the current Vice-President feels about a sexual offender?
 

icewhite

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Dec 7, 2022
I think it is necessary to see that the culture in figure skating is worse than in many other sports.
Abuse of all kinds are very, very common. I don't know of any studies, but it is not just the biggest cases, it is the everyday talk we hear, the stories of skaters who tell their stories without even expecting people to get punished, often accepting things as normal. And so do we, as viewers, and so does everyone.

The FIFA, hardly the most moral organisation, suspended Rubiales, head of the Spanish soccer fed, within days, because he kissed a (female) player unwantedly. Of course this had the "advantage" of becoming very public as it was for everyone to see. It became a scandal. Later he was banned for 3 years from all football related activities.
The UCI, the international cycling union, recently threatened to fine a big team boss for sexist remarks such as comparing a cyclist who returned to his old team to a wife returning to her abuser, unless he apologized publically - which he then did.

Especially in soccer of course many things happen and people are so powerful, they are allowed to carry on with terrible behaviour for years. But these are two examples of sports (soccer in Europe is very male and often macho, pro cycling is a very conservative milieu) which are not exactly spearheads of "woke" thinking.
Still such behaviour was considered unacceptable, and the biggest associations, comparable to the ISU, were able to/had to act. I think the public pressure in sports where money and sponsors are actually a thing, is much bigger and can sometimes lead to good results. In figure skating this pressure is missing. Nonetheless I argue that it is possible for an organization like the ISU to act, even if it's definitely not solely on them.

But like I said, probably, as important as actually calling out and banning people (instead of what happens now with known and alleged abusers) is probably a change of structures, so that certain people do not hold as much power over others. I see those structures as one of the reasons why it is so bad in figure skating. It's a sport full of huge power imbalances, strict hierarchies and needle eyes.

By the way, where is the president? Doing his work quietly is alright, but sometimes it would be good to hear some words from him, calling out abusive behaviour, saying that it is unacceptable. Words are often cheap, but in this case, as saine has said, would be a start. Because it would show that from "high above" this is not approved and considered normal.
 

Mathematician

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What is now stopping her from moving to another country and starting to coach there? Safe sport has banned her from coaching in the United States and that great in my opinion but they have no power to stop her from just moving to another country where the National Figure Skating Federation will not care and will.start up again like nothing happened.
Thats the issue with the Australian guy, dude was living in Australia for how long and just now got banned from the USA. :laugh:

I dont know if rule changes are the issue. I think its a total systematic failure. Even if there was a rule ISU set in place to ban this behaviour it would barely benefit us by 1% because the abuse itself would be discovered just as seldom as it is now, nevermind actually proven then persecuted. I say honestly there would be zero change. Really this sort of abuse is at least 100x (no exaggeration) more prevalent than it seems. Its not just skating but basically everything and everywhere. Its cooked into industry at this point. The world-wide rape [majority involving minors] epidemic is beyond description or my ability to quantify it. Think about all of the child actors, dancers, models, other athletes... Even in the official mainstream narrative the amount of case studies are endless. Can anyone name a single discipline in the world they think is safe from this sort of behaviour? I can not. I dont know what we are supposed to do about it frankly. There are hundreds of offenders in this sport alone easily and we are here scraping for a semblance of justice against a single guy (the Australian) and we are getting absolutely nothing of use from the Australian fed. We are like 100 steps behind square one.
 

Diana Delafield

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Thats the issue with the Australian guy, dude was living in Australia for how long and just now got banned from the USA. :laugh:

I dont know if rule changes are the issue. I think its a total systematic failure. Even if there was a rule ISU set in place to ban this behaviour it would barely benefit us by 1% because the abuse itself would be discovered just as seldom as it is now, nevermind actually proven then persecuted. I say honestly there would be zero change. Really this sort of abuse is at least 100x (no exaggeration) more prevalent than it seems. Its not just skating but basically everything and everywhere. Its cooked into industry at this point. The world-wide rape [majority involving minors] epidemic is beyond description or my ability to quantify it. Think about all of the child actors, dancers, models, other athletes... Even in the official mainstream narrative the amount of case studies are endless. Can anyone name a single discipline in the world they think is safe from this sort of behaviour? I can not. I dont know what we are supposed to do about it frankly. There are hundreds of offenders in this sport alone easily and we are here scraping for a semblance of justice against a single guy (the Australian) and we are getting absolutely nothing of use from the Australian fed. We are like 100 steps behind square one.
It's not just in the arts and sports. I was a librarian for a long time, and that's an occupation like nursing where most are women. Nurses have told me about how prevalent bullying and emotional abuse is for them. For librarians, particularly the younger women, there is still the old cliche that they're frustrated and repressed and are "just panting for it" (in spite of the fact that the majority are married and have photos of their kids on their desks). I've worked in large university and government libraries where the new juniors were told not to go down into the cavernous basement stacks alone because attacks by "patrons" were common, and if the level was empty enough for long, there was the occasional rape.
 

Mathematician

Pilgrim on a long journey
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It's not just in the arts and sports. I was a librarian for a long time, and that's an occupation like nursing where most are women. Nurses have told me about how prevalent bullying and emotional abuse is for them. For librarians, particularly the younger women, there is still the old cliche that they're frustrated and repressed and are "just panting for it" (in spite of the fact that the majority are married and have photos of their kids on their desks). I've worked in large university and government libraries where the new juniors were told not to go down into the cavernous basement stacks alone because attacks by "patrons" were common, and if the level was empty enough for long, there was the occasional rape.
Yes indeed. Though thats moreso a societal/natural observation. Here I am referencing specifically the systematic aspect, and how it is protected, because it is more relevant to the skating issue. It is cooked into systems of authorities and has been in basically every moment of history.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Former Elite, now Pro. ⛸️
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Jan 9, 2017
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Olympics
I think it is necessary to see that the culture in figure skating is worse than in many other sports.
Abuse of all kinds are very, very common. I don't know of any studies, but it is not just the biggest cases, it is the everyday talk we hear, the stories of skaters who tell their stories without even expecting people to get punished, often accepting things as normal. And so do we, as viewers, and so does everyone.

The FIFA, hardly the most moral organisation, suspended Rubiales, head of the Spanish soccer fed, within days, because he kissed a (female) player unwantedly. Of course this had the "advantage" of becoming very public as it was for everyone to see. It became a scandal. Later he was banned for 3 years from all football related activities.
The UCI, the international cycling union, recently threatened to fine a big team boss for sexist remarks such as comparing a cyclist who returned to his old team to a wife returning to her abuser, unless he apologized publically - which he then did.

Especially in soccer of course many things happen and people are so powerful, they are allowed to carry on with terrible behaviour for years. But these are two examples of sports (soccer in Europe is very male and often macho, pro cycling is a very conservative milieu) which are not exactly spearheads of "woke" thinking.
Still such behaviour was considered unacceptable, and the biggest associations, comparable to the ISU, were able to/had to act. I think the public pressure in sports where money and sponsors are actually a thing, is much bigger and can sometimes lead to good results. In figure skating this pressure is missing. Nonetheless I argue that it is possible for an organization like the ISU to act, even if it's definitely not solely on them.

But like I said, probably, as important as actually calling out and banning people (instead of what happens now with known and alleged abusers) is probably a change of structures, so that certain people do not hold as much power over others. I see those structures as one of the reasons why it is so bad in figure skating. It's a sport full of huge power imbalances, strict hierarchies and needle eyes.

By the way, where is the president? Doing his work quietly is alright, but sometimes it would be good to hear some words from him, calling out abusive behaviour, saying that it is unacceptable. Words are often cheap, but in this case, as saine has said, would be a start. Because it would show that from "high above" this is not approved and considered normal.
Sadly, it's going to take a huge movement and sadly a big legal case like in gymnastics in order to get anything moving in the right direction and for things to be changed.
 
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