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Skateboarding’s Olympic bid hit by lawsuit claims

Skateboarding’s bid for inclusion at the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo has been placed in doubt after a lawsuit was filed by the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF) against rival body the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF).

The Associated Press news agency reported that the lawsuit claims the ISF cancelled drug tests at an event in 2015 amid fears that competitors would test positive. The suit also alleges that the ISF sought to exclude the WSF from negotiations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) concerning skateboarding’s inclusion at Tokyo 2020.

Skateboarding is one of five sports expected to be added to Tokyo 2020’s programme of events during the IOC Session meeting on Wednesday. Baseball/softball, karate, sports climbing and surfing are also expected to receive admission. Last week an IOC panel endorsed the sports, praising the “dynamic and exciting” package that had been put forward.

However, the WSF’s suit against the ISF also points to comments made earlier this year by IOC president Thomas Bach criticising the European X Games action sports event, which was sanctioned by the ISF, for not implementing a thorough testing programme.

The WSF also alleges that the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) awarded the ISF accreditation in 2009 on the basis of false information. This led to the WSF being unable to receive accreditation itself, due to the fact that Wada only recognises one body per sport. Furthermore, the suit claims the ISF broke Wada rules by handpicking tested athletes and notifying them in advance, and that the ISF carried out no tests between 2010 and 2015.

The WSF views itself as the premier skateboarding body, and in its suit accused the ISF of having never operated or organised a skateboarding event. The suit called for the WSF to be reintroduced to Olympic negotiations.

WSF president Tim McFerran said: “Now that the IOC has acted to exclude the most significant event organiser in the sport … (it) appears to be acting in a manner detrimental to skateboarding in the Olympic Games and detrimental to the welfare of skateboarding, skateboarders, and their fans.”

Responding to the WSF’s claim, an IOC spokesman said “these allegations are groundless.”