Monday, July 28, 2014

CAS Decides Olympic Artistry Case

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has finally ruled on the German Ski Federation's (DSV) protest over ski racer Stefan Luitz's bronze medal for artistic impression in Sochi. Switzerland also protested, saying that 4th place Didier Defago deserved a medal. In Sochi Austrian skier Max Franz won the gold medal, Norwegian racer Alexander Aamodt Kilde earned silver, and Luitz was awarded the bronze (see this story). Normally CAS cases are quickly resolved, but this one took over 5 months. One of our intrepid reporters scored a journalistic coup and was able to speak with one of the judges after the decision was made. Because this judge rules on cases in various sports, he does not want to have his identity revealed and asked to be called Frank. Let's find out what Frank has to say.

BB: Did the Germans and Swiss win their protest?
Frank: The German and Swiss protests each had two parts. Germany protested about Luitz receiving bronze when the DSV felt that he should have earned the gold medal. Switzerland was protesting Defago's 4th place finish. The Swiss felt that he should have earned a medal. Both Germany and Switzerland contended that there was collusion between the Austrian head judges and the other judges in the  men's giant slalom and super-combined events (see this story).
BB: So what was the outcome?
Frank: After a long review of the evidence, the CAS decided to award the gold medal for artistry to Stefan Luitz. Alexander Aamodt Kilde would keep his silver medal, and Didier Defago would get the bronze medal.
BB: What about Max Franz? He did some beautiful one ski work and his performance seemed to be medal-worthy. He achieved a flying camel position on one ski, which showed originality and grace (see this video).
Frank: It was a tough call. But Max's hand touched the ground, which is the equivalent of a fall. If he didn't touch the ground, he could have easily won the gold medal. But he was evidently not given the full deduction for a fall when his hand touched the ground.
BB: I see. Is this one of the reasons why Germany and Switzerland protested the original result?
Frank: Yes. In fact, it turned out that the draw for head judges for the Olympic events was rigged so that an Austrian would draw multiple events. The odds were over in in 10,000 for Austria to have head judges in two Olympic events, yet it happened. We found out that the Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) did everything in its power to ensure that Austria won the most medals in Sochi. The Austrians were embarassed at the Vancouver Olympics and also at the last World Championships because the USA won more gold medals than they did. At the last moment they emptied the box with the names of potential head judges and replaced the papers with the names of Austrians.
BB: How did they do that? I thought that the box was heavily guarded.
Frank: The guards were Russian soldiers. A delegation from Austria gave the soldiers some bottles of vodka to thank them for their guard duty. After a few shots of vodka, the guards easily gave up the box.
BB: How did you figure this out?
Frank: The CAS has ways of getting confessions. We don't need Mafia hit men or voodoo doctors because we have our own methods, which shall remain secret. Not even your reporters are intrepid enough to figure out how we get people to confess their wrongdoings.
BB: Nobody is as intrepid as our reporters! We have the most intrepid reporters in the business! Given enough time, we would find a way to gain access to your secrets. (short pause) In addition to stuffing the box with the names of Austrian judges, what other cheating was going on? We have heard rumours of judges being threatened with voodoo curses and Mafia enforcers. Are they true?
Frank: Unfortunately, they are just rumours. But suffice it to say that money changed hands in exchange for giving Austrian ski racers higher artistry scores and skiers from other countries lower ones.
BB: Was Max Franz being stripped of his medal a punishment for the sins of his federation?
Frank: The CAS is neutral and we looked at all of the evidence before making the decision to strip Max Franz of his medal. If we decided to punish the athletes for their federation's wrongdoing, we would have stripped all of the Austrian ski racers of their medals. But the real reason Max Franz was stripped of his medal was because the proper deductions for his slip were not taken. Even with his artistry bonus, it was not enough for a medal. He should have finished in 4th place because of his execution deductions, which outweighed the artistry and originality bonuses.
BB: I understand. Normally the CAS decides cases and protests very quickly. But it took almost 6 months to come to a decision and change the order of medal winners. Why did it take so long?
Frank: It was the Austrians' fault.
BB: Because they stuffed the box for the head judge draw? That seems a bit far fetched.
Frank: We must look at all of the evidence before making our decisions. The Austrians posted the video of Max Franz for all to see. But there are no videos on YouTube of Luitz, Defago, or Kilde in their disputed Olympic races. It seems that the Austrians decided to prevent those videos from being posted. It took a long time to find videos of the Olympic races so that we could review them.
BB: Are you saying that Austria tried to block your investigation?
Frank: It certainly looks that way. They obviously did not want public opinion to be swayed by having all of the videos easily available for anyone to view. But it made our job at the CAS more difficult.
BB: Do you have proof that Austria conspired to keep the videos of Defago, Luitz, and Kilde from public view?
Frank: We don't have any direct evidence, but it is very suspicious that only Max Franz's performance is available for all to see.
BB: Is that the only reason it took so long to arrive at your decision?
Frank: No. In order to be fair to all of the racers involved, the CAS judges who ruled on this case also had to memorize the FIS's Big Book of Rules and learn all about execution and artistry points and deductions (see this story). In addition, we took the same course that an FIS artistry judge would take and even took the judging exam. If the FIS needs new artistry judges for ski races, we are certified for that job.
BB: Will the OeSV be penalized for its wrongdoing in Sochi?
Frank: Oh yes! For the 2014/15 season Austria will not be allowed to have any judges on artistry panels. This includes regular judges and head judges. Austria will also be forbidden from having any artistry judges at the Vail World Championships.
BB: Will any of the other judges from Sochi be punished?
Frank: They will be on probationary status. If they allow themselves to be influenced by head judges in any future competitions, they will be permanently suspended. We decided to be lenient with them because it turns out they were forced to accept the money under duress from the Austrian head judges to ensure a gold medal for Max Franz. They were threatened with the loss of their jobs and families if they didn't take the money.
BB: Will Austria have a curse on it this season like Sweden had last season?
Frank: No. Austria did not kidnap an opposing team's witch doctor like Sweden did in Schladming. We thought about having a witch doctor put a curse on Austria, but their ski racers are so strong they can easily defeat any curse that comes their way. The other racers had nothing to do with Max Franz getting a gold medal, so they should not be punished.
BB: We shall see what happens during the regular season and at the World Championships. Hopefully the judges from the other countries will be neutral and do their jobs properly. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Frank, I want to thank you for this interview. It was very enlightening. Maybe we will even see you as an artistry judge in the future. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If our reporters don't do their jobs, we give them the full deduction for lack of intrepidness.

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