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ISU president faces mounting pressure over position

Pressure is continuing to mount on International Skating Union (ISU) president Ottavio Cinquanta after the former Italian speed skater put forward a series of proposals to implement major reforms in the sports of figure skating and speed skating.

A petition calling for Cinquanta’s resignation has so far gathered more than 22,000 signatures after the ISU president in March announced plans to implement a number of widespread changes before his term ends in 2016.

Former figure skating double world champion Tim Wood is amongst those to have added his name to the petition and has called on Cinquanta to resign before his sport becomes “irrelevant”.

“If changes are not sweeping and imminently forthcoming, the sport could find itself obsolete and irrelevant," Wood told the Reuters news agency. “That is the imminent danger and the first person that needs to be replaced is the guy who has caused all the problems, the guy who has zero understanding of the sport, as he freely admits, and the guy who is completely responsible for the single handed dismantling of the sport… Cinquanta.”

Cinquanta’s stint in charge was due to end in June of this year but he and his board opted to postpone elections two years ago until 2016, which allowed the 75-year-old to remain in office despite reaching the age limit. During his final two years in power, Cinquanta plans to introduce measures that will end short programs in all figure skating events and simplify a scoring system that he changed after a judging scandal at the 2002 winter Olympic Games.

Wood, who also won a silver medal for the US at the 1968 winter Olympics, said that Cinquanta has undemocratically postponed ISU elections in order to extend his stay and has changed the scoring system for the worse by making it confusing and open to corruption.

Wood said: “The outrageous judging system he enacted was put in place to stop the corruption but because judges are now not disclosed so it has increased the corruption to unprecedented levels, as evidenced by the issues of Sochi women’s event. The judging system is so complicated and so corrupt that the viewing public has no idea of what’s going on.”

Wood said the new judging system has led to a change in the way athletes perform, with skaters now attempting more acrobatic tricks instead of artistic moves. “Since Cinquanta was a speed skater, he doesn’t like or understand the subjective elements of the creative artistic side of the sport, so the rules were changed to make everything a point system,” Wood said. “The unintended consequence is that skaters are now just point junkies; whoever does the most tricks, wins.”