Skateboarding’s bid to be added to the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020 has hit a fresh crisis two days ahead of the final decision after it emerged the two rival organisations supposed to organize the competition in the Japanese capital are involved in a legal dispute.
A lawsuit, a copy of which has been seen by insidethegames, has been filed in a court in California by the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF), run by Tim McFerran, against the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF), run by Gary Ream.
The WSF claim they have been sidelined by the ISF and International Olympic Committee (IOC), despite investing money and resources into preparations.
It is also claimed that the ISF do not meet IOC anti-doping standards and have cancelled recent drug testing programmes due to fears athletes would test positive for banned drugs.
Ream and other ISF officals are also accused of having never operated or managed a skateboarding contest and are unqualified to organise an Olympic competition.
An “improper relationship” is also alleged between Ream and Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Executive Director of the Olympic Games.
According to the lawsuit, Ream provided Dubi’s son with free training at a skateboarding camp owned by him and hired a consultant with whom the IOC official had a “personal relationship”.
He also supposedly boasted about a “‘special relationship’ with an IOC official [Dubi], in order to leverege others in the skateboarding community to support ISF”.
Dubi is known to be playing a key role in the process to add new events, although IOC sports director Kit McConnell is more directly responsible.
Skateboarding is one of five new sports expected to be confirmed on the Tokyo 2020 programme at the IOC Session starting here tomorrow, along with baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing and surfing.
But, while it fulfills the IOC aim for the Olympics to appeal to younger generations, its inclusion has generated huge controversy.
That is partly because neither the ISF nor the WSF are recognised by the IOC.
Skateboarding’s submission was proposed by the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS), something that also provoked criticism because FIRS is not a skateboarding body.
insidethegames exclusively reported in April that a four-person FIRS Technical Commission chaired by Ream had been proposed to oversee preparations.
FIRS President Sabatino Aracu would also sit on the Commission along with McFerran and an athlete representative.
The athlete representative is thought to be Neal Hendrix, a five-time X Games medallist who began the sport at a camp run by Ream and is now brand manager for the Ream-owned Camp Woodward.
Confirmation of this Commission has still not been given by the IOC and the lawsuit claims that McFerran has been excluded from the process.
Aracu’s experience lies predominantly in skating and both Ream and Hendrix are more involved in running skate camps rather than competitions.
McFerran was the only one of the four proposed for the Commission with experience in running major events, organizing the Skateboarding World Championships in Kimberley in South Africa.
If McFerran is not involved, it would raise serious questions over whether the panel has the necessary experience to help organize the competition at Tokyo 2020.
Allegations about a poor doping record are also damaging considering the IOC is currently facing huge criticism for its response to claims of state-sponsored doping in Russia.
It is alleged that the ISF received its accreditation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 2009 using false information.
It alleged they subsequently violated WADA policy by choosing and notifying which athletes were tested.
There were no tests were conducted between 2010 and 2015, it is alleged in the lawsuit, case number SV0038124 which has been filed in the Superior Court of the State of the California by Schneiter Law Group on behalf of the WSF.
The ISF’s governance structure is also questioned, with it claimed that no properly function governing Board or system of members was in place.
The IOC, ISF and WADA are all yet to respond to insidethegames’ requests for a comment.
The IOC have told Associated Press, however, that the allegations are “groundless”.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz