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ISU Sanctions Ukrainian Judge Natalia Kruglova

Natalia Kruglova

ISU Disciplinary Commission Announces Sanction of Ukrainian Judge Natalia Kruglova

I N T E R N A T I O N AL  S K A T I N G  U N I O N

Communication No. 1795

Decision of ISU Disciplinary Commission

On November 20, 2012, the ISU Vice President Figure Skating and the Chair of the ISU Sports

Directorate filed a complaint against Ms. Natalia Kruglova, ISU Judge for Single and Pair Skating from Ukraine for alleged violations of the Duties of Judges and the ISU Code of Ethics at the 2012 Cup of Nice (France), on October 26, 2012.

Following consideration of the alleged violations of the General Regulations and the ISU Code of Ethics, the ISU Disciplinary Commission, on May 30, 2013, rendered the following decision:

1. Natalia Kruglova is guilty of misconduct and of violation of the duties of judges and the ISU

Code of Ethics 2012.

2. A two year suspension from participation in all ISU activities as an ISU Judge is imposed on Natalia Kruglova, beginning on December 24, 2012 (date of the provisional suspension) and ending on December 23, 2014.

3. The Complainants and Ms. Kruglova shall bear their own costs.

4. The costs of the hearing (room and travel expenses of the panel and the witness) are imposed on the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation. This decision is subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as per Article 25, paragraph 1 of the ISU Constitution 2012. The decisions of the Disciplinary Commission are published in full on the ISU website.

Milano, Ottavio Cinquanta, President

June 14, 2013

Lausanne, Fredi Schmid, Director General

I N T E R N A T I O N AL  S K A T I N G  U N I O N

HEADQUARTERS ADDRESS:CHEMIN DE PRIMEROSE 2 – CH 1007 LAUSANNE – SWITZERLAND

TELEPHONE (+41) 21 61266 66 TELEFAX (+41) 21 612 66 77 E-MAIL: info@isu.ch

Disciplinary Commission

Case No. 2012-10: Decision of the ISU Disciplinary Commission

Panel: Volker Waldeck (Chair), Dr. Egbert Schmid , Fred Benjamin

In the matter of International Skating Union, Chemin de Primrose 2, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland, represented by Mr. David M. Dore, ISU Vice President for Figure Skating, and

Mr. Peter Krick, Chair ISU Sports Directorate – Complainant – against Ms Natalia Kruglova, Ukraine, -Alleged Offender – and Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation, Esplanadnaya str.42 01601 Kiev, Ukraine, – Interested ISU Member – Concerning alleged Violations of the Duties of Judges and the ISU Code of Ethics.

I. History of the Procedure

1. On November 20,2012, the ISU Vice President for Figure Skating and the Chair ISU Sport Directorate filed a complaint against the Alleged Offender together with two exhibits. The Complainants learned about the disciplinary/ethical offense in question which had happened on October 25, 2012, through an e-mail addressed to them by the Event Referee on October 30, 2012.

2. On November 29, 2012 the Disciplinary Commission invited the Alleged Offender and the Interested ISU Member to file their statements of reply within 21 days upon receipt of the Complaint.

3. On December 18, 2012, in due time, the alleged Offender filed her statement of reply to the ISU Director General. The reply was forwarded to the complainants. The complainants responded that the statement of Ms. Kruglova did not exonerate their accusation. The complainants requested an oral hearing and the examination of the witness Ms. …. (name excluded here and in further entries by ISU).

4. By order No. 2 of December 24, 2012, the Disciplinary Commission provisionally suspended the Alleged Offender in her function as an ISU Judge until the final decision would be rendered.

5. On January 7, 2013 by Order No. 3 the Disciplinary Commission Appointed on oral hearing, including evidence from the witness Ms…., to be held on February 13, 2013, 13:00 p.m., at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, Terminal 1, Frankfurt/ Main (Germany).

Ms. Kruglova was summoned for the hearing by order No. 3 of the Disciplinary Commission. In her letter of January 11, 2013, Ms. Kruglova formally acknowledged the receipt of the invitation to attend the oral hearing. Because of financial reasons she proposed to conduct the hearing by video conference via Skype. The panel did not grant the request for a hearing via Skype. The panel was of the opinion that a hearing by video conference would defeat the purpose of asking for a formal in person hearing with all parties and witnesses being present.

By email of January 21, 2013, Ms. Kruglova asked for a separate invitation for the hearing, to apply for a visa at the German embassy in Ukraine. On January 22, 2013, the Disciplinary Commission formally invited her by an attached letter to the email. Ms. Kruglova immediately replied that she needed an original invitation for the visa application. By email of February 5, 2013, Ms. Kruglova informed the Disciplinary Commission that the German Consulate in Kiev has rejected her application of a visa for Germany because she could not present an original invitation for the hearing. On February 11, 2013, Ms. Kruglova informed the Disciplinary Commission that she was ill and would not attend the hearing on February 13.

The hearing was held on February 13, 2013, at the Sheraton in Frankfurt (Germany).

By letter of March 2, 2013, Ms. Kruglova filed a statement of reply to the minutes of the hearing and explained why she was unable to attend the hearing. The Disciplinary Commission therefore offered her the choice for another date of an oral hearing or to waive the right of an oral hearing. By email of March 19, 2013 Ms. Kruglova waived the right of an oral hearing.

II. Procedural Matters

1. According to Article 24 paragraph 1 of the ISU Constitution and General Regulation 2012 the Disciplinary Commission (“DC”) serves as an authority of first instance to hear and decide all charges referred to it against ISU Officials accused of a disciplinary or ethical offence.

2. The present case arises out of an ISU International Figure Skating Competition in Nice (France) on October 25, 2012, where the Alleged Offender has participated as a judge and is accused of disciplinary and ethical offences. Therefore, the DC has jurisdiction to hear and decide the present case.

3. The present case is governed by the ISU Special Regulations and Technical Rules for Single and Pair Skating and Ice Dance 2012, the ISU Code of Ethics 2012 (ISU Communication 1717) and the ISU Disciplinary Commission Rules of Procedure (ISU Communication 1419).

III. Facts

1. The Alleged Offender is an ISU Judge for single and pair skating from Ukraine (see ISU Communication no. 1756). At the Cup of Nice 2012 she served, among others, on the Panel of Judges for the Senior Pairs Event and the Junior Ladies Event. In his e-mail of October 30, 2012 the Event Referee of the Senior Pairs Event informed the Complainants that Ms…., an ISU Judge who served on the same Senior Pairs Judges Panel had come to him before the Short Program and told him that she had been approached by the Alleged Offender who encouraged her to give higher Grade of Execution Marks to the couple from Ukraine. Ms. … handed over to the referee a report of an incident which took place on October 25, 21012, at the café of the ice rink in Nice. In this report Ms. … wrote, that on entering the ice rink café she was invited by Ms. Kruglova to join her at the table. Ms. Kruglova allegedly asked her, if when judging the Senior Pairs Competition she would give the Ukrainian couple a +1 instead of a zero, as they need as many points as possible to qualify.

2. In her statement of reply Ms. Kruglova confirmed that she had lunch at the ice rink cafe in Nice on October 25.When Ms. … entered the cafe it was not her but Ms. … who asked to join her at the table. Ms.Kruglova allegedly did not ask Ms. … to improve the marks of the Ukrainian couple, but was talking with her about figure skating in general and that skaters are now travelling from competition to competition trying to earn a minimal technical score. There would have been no reason to push the marks for the Ukrainian couple because they had already enough points to qualify for the European Championships and the Junior World Championships. Her own marks for the technical elements and the program components of the Ukrainian couple were in the middle of the total panel score which proves that she personally did not favour the Ukrainian couple.

3. At the hearing on February 13, 2013, the witness Ms. …described the encounter and conversation with Ms. Kruglova as follows:

“On that day I knew I was judging the pairs skating section. I arrived at the ice rink at a quarter past one and the competition was due to start at two o clock. We had a meeting with the referee at 1:30. I went into the cafe at the ice rink, which was on the top floor next to the judges’ room. When I was getting my soup suddenly Natalia Kruglova asked me: ‘…, come and sit with me!’ Behind me all the tables were full but in front of me they were all empty. If she hadn’t said that to me I would have gone to one of the other tables. As I was having my soup Natalia bent over tome and touched my arm and just said: ‘O … I have got something to ask you. Please, when you are judging my couple this afternoon, you know they need every mark they can get. So please will you, when you think of giving them a Zero, please give them a Plus, because that will help them’. At this point I was shocked and I was angry. I put my spoon down and said ‘I am going to the meeting’ and left the table and moved away.”

4. At the hearing the representative of the complainant, Chair ISU Sports Directorate, Mr. Peter Krick, explained, that the Ukrainian couple needed to reach 28 points in the short program and 45 points in the free program for a qualification, which they could easily reach if the judges would increase the Grade of execution of the 8 elements in the short and 13 elements in the free program.

Mr. Krick also added that the referee of the Junior Ladies event, in which Ms. Kruglova was also judging, has written in his report:

“ Judging of Ms.Kruglova (UKR):

Short Program: the component marks for the Ukrainian skater are the highest she gave in the competition. The skater finished 6th on components in this segment.

Free skating: based on her total score for components, she would have placed the Ukrainian skater 5th. The skater finished 12th on components in this segment.

…to me this judging looks like a national bias. Also in the round table discussion she was really fighting and pushing for this skater.”

(Report of the referee of the Junior Ladies event, of November 5, 2012).

5. In her reply of March 2, 2013, Ms. Kruglova insisted on her version of the encounter and conversation with Ms….. She also contested to have judged in favour of the Ukrainian lady at the Junior Ladies event. Her judging would have been in the “corridor” of the panel’s marks and did not infringe the ISU Rules.

IV. Law

1. The Statement of Complaint is admissible.

1.1. The Complaint was filed to the Disciplinary Commission within the time limit of 60 days according to Article 24 Paragraph 6a) of the ISU Constitution and General Regulations 2012.

The 60 days deadline started from the date of the receipt of the report of the referee on October 30, 2012, when the Complainant became aware of the facts or events which constitute the disciplinary offence.

2. The Statement of Complaint is justified.

2.1. Ms. Kruglova is an ISU Judge for single and pair skating from the Ukraine as listed in the ISU Communication No. 1756. Therefore she is an “ISU Official” according to the definitions in Article 37 para 2 of the ISU Constitution and Rule 121 para 1a) i) of the General Regulations

2012. According to Rule 125 para 4 of the General Regulations 2012 Officials shall comply with any applicable statutes, ethical declarations and codes of conduct, in this case especially with the ISU Special Regulations for Figure Skating 2012 and with the ISU Code of Ethics 2012 (see Rule 430 General e) of the ISU Special Regulations and Technical Rules for Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance 2012)

2.2. Rule 430 Generalf) of the ISU Special Regulations and Technical Rules for Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance 2012 states – inter alia –

“Officials must:

– not show bias for or against any competitor on any grounds;

– be completely impartial and neutral at all times;

– not discuss their marks or decisions and marks or decisions of other Officials during the competition with any other person other than the Referee

2.3. The ISU Code of Ethics 2012 (Communication 1717) Paragraph 4a) obliges an ISU judge to exemplify the highest standard of honesty, respect, truth, fairness, ethical behaviour and sporting attitude. According to Paragraph 4f) the performance and conduct of an ISU judge should stimulate trust and confidence among the skaters, officials, media and the public at large. Finally Paragraph 4h) obliges an ISU Judge to refrain from any attempt to influence the course and/or results of any ice skating event in a manner contrary to sporting ethics.

2.4. After the Disciplinary Commission has heard the witness Ms. …, the Commission is convinced that Ms. Kruglova has tried to incite Ms. … to give higher marks for the Ukrainian couple than impartially justified. The witness has described the approach of Ms. Kruglova at the cafe of the ice rink in Nice on October 25, 2012 in detail and the Commission has no doubt, that the conversation between the two judges was conducted as explained by the witness.

Whereas the witness recalled that she was asked by Ms. Kruglova to come and sit with her at the table, Ms. Kruglova alleged that Ms. … asked to join her at the table. But the witness convincingly explained that she did not know Ms. Kruglova personally and there would have been no reason to join her at the table and start a conversation with her. The witness also confirmed that she never had a relationship or any confrontation with her in the past. The panel believes that the conversation at the ice rink cafe has taken place as described by the witness and Ms. Kruglova has tried to influence the witness in her judging.

The reason that the panel believes the testimony of Ms. … is truthful after witnessing her testify before the panel at an in person hearing is that the panel had a chance to see her demeanor and judge her credibility. The panel felt her to be very sincere and believed her description of her shock and surprise, of her feeling of being upset and the fact that she felt “horrified” when requested to give the Ukrainian Team a plus instead of a Zero. Although she did not know Ms. Kruglova personally, Ms. … found it unusual at this competition while sitting in the coffee shop with her husband that Ms. … and others from the Ukrainian group had attempted to befriend her asking to join them at their table because she vaguely knew her and had never experienced any relationship or and confrontation with her in the past. Additionally, she reported it to the Referee at the earliest possible moment she could meet alone with the Referee on the same day while still at the competition. She put it in writing for him as requested and gave it to him the next day. It is for all these reasons as well as the long period of time she has been an ISU Judge that the panel felt the veracity of her testimony was very strong and believable.

Additionally the panel has taken into consideration the report of the referee of the Junior Ladies event in Nice who noticed that the judging of Ms. Kruglova looked like a national bias. Also in the round table discussion she was really fighting and pushing for the Ukrainian skater. That indicates that Ms. Kruglova not only has tried to influence the witness but that she herself has favoured skaters from the Ukraine unjustified.

2.5 Based on the above considerations the Disciplinary Commission finds Ms. Kruglova guilty of misconduct and of violation of the duties of judges and the ISU Code of Ethics. A sanction of a two years suspension is appropriate taking into consideration that the whole judging system in figure skating depends on the honesty and integrity of judges. Inciting other judges of the panel to give skaters higher marks than justified by their performance would shake the judging system to the very foundations.

2.6. According to Article 15 Para 3 of the ISU Disciplinary Rules of Procedure the costs of the hearing, including the rent of the meeting room and the travel expenses of the Disciplinary Commission and the witness, are imposed on the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation.

V. Decision

1. Natalia Kruglova is guilty of misconduct and of violation of the duties of judges and the ISU Code of Ethics 2012.

2. A two year suspension from participation in all ISU activities as an ISU Judge is imposed on Natalia Kruglova, beginning on December 24, 2012 (date of the provisional suspension) and ending on December 23, 2014.

3. The Complainants and Ms. Kruglova shall bear their own costs.

4. The costs of the hearing (room and travel expenses of the panel and the witness) are imposed on the Ukrainian Figure Skating Federation.

May 30, 2013

Volker Waldeck (Chair) – Dr. Egbert Schmid – Fred Benjamin

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