International Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta's letter to the Korean Skating Union requesting that world champion Yu-na Kim skate in the Four Continents Championship in her home country at the end of January seems to have included a mild threat to sanction the skating federation if Kim does not participate, according to Philip Hersh's column in the Chicago Tribune:
Cinquanta said his letter to the Korean federation included a reference to ISU rule 136 (6), which allows sanctions against national federations whose skaters do not participate in those ISU events that have TV or commercial contracts.
The article goes on to state that Cinquanta said that the Korean federation would have to provide a reason such as injury or illness for why Kim is not competing in the competition (Kim trains in Toronto and her coach, Brian Orser, has repeated stated he does not want her to make that trip at that time). Cinquanta also said the ISU would review Kim's "travel" issue.
More fuel to the fire is added to the conspiracy theorists who think the ISU is out to get Kim:
Skating message boards have been buzzing for two years about alleged deals between the ISU and the Japan skating federation (four of the seven ISU official sponsors are Japanese companies) to make sure judges are aware of potential flaws in Kim's skating. The combination of historic suspicion over judging in figure skating and historic political and cultural animosity between Korea and Japan undoubtedly is feeding these rumors.
They picked up steam at the Grand Prix Final, when the technical panel gave a questionable downgrade to both Kim’s triple-triple combination and an individual triple toe loop -- especially since the same technical specialists will work the Olympics.
I have no idea if any of these rumors are true. If anything, as an outside observer I sometimes (not always) feel the judges go overboard with their love for Kim on some program components and grade of execution marks, rather than docking her with questionable downgrades. The Hersh article links to a video the justifies the downgrades. Of course, someone with more of a fanatic allegiance to either Kim or say, Mao Asada, might feel much differently.
Cinquanta says he is not going to try to take the Olympic spot away from Kim or anything like that. Still, it does seem a bit threatening for the Korean federation - although it appears that Cinquanta's bark will likely be worse than his bite here...but we'll see.
What do you think? Is there a massive ISU conspiracy against Yu-na Kim?