By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
5:58 PM EDT, March 21, 2014
A month after the much-debated victory by Russia's Adelina Sotnikova over South Korea's Yuna Kim in the women's figure skating final at the Sochi Olympics, the Korean Olympic Committee and Korean Skating Union will file a formal complaint about the judging of the women's event to the International Skating Union's disciplinary committee.
In a Friday statement, the Korean Olympic Committee and Korean skating federation called the judging of Kim "unreasonable and unfair."
The complaint alleges violations of the IOC Code of Ethics, based on the presence of two particular judges on the panel for the free skate and on "suspicions of bias by other judges."
"By making it official that the judging was unfair, KOC and KSU will do our best to prevent any unfair incidents to Korean athletes in the international skating and sports world," the statement said.
ISU rules allow filing of complaints to the disciiplinary commission within 60 days of the events in question.
In what is supposed to be a blind draw for judges, four of the nine changed between the short program and the free skate.
Two of the new judges sparked controversy because of their backgrounds. Both are identified by name in the Korean statement.
One was Alla Shekhovtseva, wife of Valentin Piseev, former president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation and its current general director. Another, Yuri Balkov of Ukraine, was suspended for one year for being part of a result-fixing affair in 1998.
The Korean statement mentions that Shekhovtseva was seen hugging Sotnikova soon after the victory ceremony at the Iceberg Arena.
In an exclusive interview with the Tribune one day after the women's final, ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta of Italy defended the presence of both Shekhovtseva and Balkov.
“Would you rather have an idiot acting as a judge than a good one who is a relative of the manager of a federation?” Cinquanta said. “It is far more important to have a good judge than a possible conflict of interest.
“I can’t suspend a person for life for a minor violation. (Balkov) is a matter for the Ukraine federation because they chose to send him.”
The current judging system does not tell the public which judge gave which score, which is designed to allow a judge to resist pressure for home cooking.
But a major underlying problem in the judging was not addressed in the systemic changes that occurred after the pairs judging controversy at the 2002 Olympics. Judges have no real independence because national federations train them and decide which ones to nominate for big assignments.
Korean officials did not lodge an immediate protest over the composition of the judging panel. Such a protest had to be filed within an hour of the announcement of the panel. Friday's statement said the Koreans had been reviewing possible courses of action since then.
In the statement, an unidentified Korean official said, "We had to be extremely careful with our action because filing a complaint may adversely affect our relationships with the ISU and international figure skating judges, which could put our athletes at a disadvantage at future competitions.
"However, after deliberating over what would be the best course of action for our people, we decided to appeal with the ISU. We are aware of the problems that this move can cause.''
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