Fire at will on the Gailhaguet system
* Didier Gailhaguet, president of the FFSG, is a candidate to his own succession
* Three other candidates - including two Châlonnais - are aiming for the presidency
* The Salt Lake City scandal (2002) is invited in the campaign
* The skater Philippe Candeloro supports
Alexander Piton, the surprise candidate: "We must stop being afraid of a little Stalin"
What happens within the Federation today, whether at human or financial level, is worthy of totalitarian regimes. It is time to end this policy between friends. We need real methods of administrative and financial management and ethics, even if it is a big word, to rebuild a federation focused on sport. For me, this is a matter of public service." The Châlonnais Alexandre Piton, future senior public official who made his debut at the National School of Administration (ENA) in Strasbourg, goes directly to the heart of the matter to explain his candidacy for the presidency of the FFSG.
"A declining Federation"
"The abuses of governance, the results at the end of the Olympics in Vancouver and the financial and administrative situation is symptomatic of a declining Federation," said former top athlete, a member for twelve years of the french skating team. "Didier Gailhaguet is an apparatchik of ice sports that takes care of ousting or using potential opponents, using blackmail, favoritism (in french, it says "clientélisme") and administrative and human resources of the FFSG for personal power," says the treasurer of the Association des Sports de Glace chalonnais. "The election on Saturday (tomorrow) is a concrete example of how Didier Gailhaguet proceeds. The deadline for submission of the candidacies was Monday, June 14 and the clubs have not yet received the official candidacies which must be sent by the Federation (Editor's note: The club received the documents by mail on Wednesday morning). The 2009 financial accounts, with very little detail, and the 2010-2011 budget arrived on the mailbox of the presidents of the clubs on Friday, June 18. It's aberrant', he says. "I officially requested the presence of a bailiff for the verification of the electoral process and Didier Gailhaguet has responded positively to my request. As a candidate, I take every precaution to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections because there are things that are not very clear, particularly for the proxy votes. "
Transparency is not an empty word for the former chief financial officer of Eurosport France who is suffering a denigration campaign as the elections approach : "Didier Gailhaguet thinks he's smart, saying that I was fired by my ex-employer because I was involved in skulduggeries. I challenge him to prove anything against me. My employer, now, is the State (note from me : when you enter the administration in France, they verify your penal record and your fiscal record, and, at high level such as Piton's or if you enter some services, they do a "inquiry of morality", involving questionning your former employers about you) and I am truthful, independent and honest. Such intimidations will not prevent me from moving forward. I am following very carefully what happens within the Federation. As early as 2002, I took care to alert the authorities and the press about certain practices of Didier Gailhaguet. He has never been able to explain, with account doccuments, what was the goal for the 30,000 dollars in cash debited in December 2001 and January 2002 on the account of the Federation. It is no coincidence that the Court of Auditors has been concerned by the overall functionning and use of public funds of the FFSG. There is no smoke without fire ". The member of the committee of the League of Champagne-Ardenne is campaigning for "the reconstruction of the FFSG as modern and efficient in sport, administrative and financial, communication / marketing departments. His goal, "to form and manage a new team consisting of former Federal athletes and professionals from the business world."
To achieve his goals, he has the support of Philippe Candeloro, a former professional skater (see below).
"Today at the Federation, it all depends on the whim of one person. My goal is to establish a virtuous system, to get clubs involved and to encourage those who really want to work for the Federation." "We must stop being afraid of a little Stalin ", adds Alexandre Piton.
Does he really believe that a majority of the 150 club presidents, voters tomorrow, will approve his speech and propel him to the presidency of the FFSG? "In a normal system, honest and logical, my chance of being elected president would be maximum, but in this gangrenous federal world, it is inevitably reduced," says he with lucidity.
Philippe Candeloro's important support : "It cannot get worse ..."
For long "marginalized by Gailhaguet's team", Philippe Candeloro has decided to support the candidacy of Alexandre Piton to the presidency of the FFSG. The double Olympic bronze medalist (1994 and 1998) does "not agree with what is happening in the Federation." "It is urgent to do something because we can not continue to trust those who fail. Those who will vote in the election must take into account what happened in the last two Olympics, "says the consultant from France Televisions.
"Today, athletes are not valued. We must review the whole federal organization and put athletes back at the center. At election time, everything is done to give the impression that everything is fine, that everything is rosy when this is not the case. The policy of the FFSG must be reviewed in its entirety. We need to stop betting like in a poker game in figure skating, "said Philippe Candeloro, who wants "the future of elite athletes to be preserved". He relies on his own case to develop his argument: "I sacrificed a lot for skating. After my sport career, they barely shook my hand and they showed me that I didn't belong there. I had to scramble to find my own way. Today, I earn a good living but others may not have the same chance as me. So I've decided to make things happen by enlisting in the electoral process alongside Alexandre Piton, a very high level manager and a real athlete. "
"It is time to react"
"It is not because we are young that we are inevitably greenhorn. We are focusing on new sectors of development to relaunch the ice sports. We need a modern and innovative policy and new names for the the FFSG to get rid of this negative image, dragged since Salt Lake City. I know some businessmen who have a large sponsorship budget but so far they don't want to invest in skating. They told me that this environment is too rotten and that we have no credibility. When I see how things go, I can only agree with them, "he says.
"The Federation does not have enough money to lead a consistent promotion campaign. Everything comes down to the Trophee Bompard and some specific events, "says Philippe Candeloro.
The vice-world champion in 1994 tried to use his experience to help the Federation, but "I have always been put a spoke in the wheels. They made me understand that they did not need me. Didier Gailhaguet has a problem with those who want to help him. Divide and rule, it can not work forever. "
Will the Piton - Candeloro duo have enough weight against Didier Gailhaguet who has all the logistics service? "We are a team. It is an association where everyone can contribute with one's expertise in specific areas. We know how the system works, we have nothing to be ashamed and we are honest. We strongly believe in our approach and we will try our luck. Power does not attract me, the same for Alexander (Piton). Club presidents who will vote Saturday (tomorrow) know that very well. I can not sit by and let this federeation go into the wall. It is time to react, to say stop to little arrangements between friends and other shenanigans. We are here to restore the prestige of the Federation and rebuild on a better fundament. At the point where things stand, it will be difficult to do worse than the current management team."
Marie-Reine Le Gougne, the fighter: "Ending the reign of terror"
Hard to talk about the candidacy of Marie Reine Le Gougne without mentioning the scandal of Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. The native of Chalons-en-Champagne had been accused of favoring the pair Berezhnaya Sikharulidze, after a deal with the Russians.
In April 2002, the French judge had received a suspension of international arbitration for three years and has not been selected for the Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006. Will she be able to make people forget that infamous reputation to take the reins of the Federation? "I have no regrets. I did not cheat, " she says, more determined than ever "to change the governance and end the Gailhaguet era".
"Victim of a system"
"Eight years ago, I did not tell all the truth to protect my federation and its athletes. Besides, my silence has benefited Mr. Gailhaguet who rebuilt his reputation (litterally translated "who rebuilt his virginity", it's meant to be ironic), " says the former skater. Is this a way to suggest that the real culprit of the scandal in Salt Lake City is the current president of FFSG? "I was the victim of a system. My silence has benefited the real culprits. There are too many issues right now, I can not say anything more. We shall see later. In due course, I will shed light on this story that I carry around like a ball an chain, "promises the president of the League of Alsace. She also thinks candidate Alexandre Piton's attitude to be "very cavalier", who " opportunely refers to Salt Lake City to say that I am corrupt." "He does not behave in a very dignified way. He tries to tarnish my image and undermine my integrity. It is despicable and disgraceful. He must stop trying to smear me just for the elections, "she said indignantly.
For Marie-Reine Gougne, "the overall balance of Didier Gailhaguet at the head of the Federation is pathetic. "Mr Gailhaguet had more than one chance. Directly or indirectly, he has ruled the Federation for 12 years, and it is a dramatic failure because he has never promoted the general interest. Today, we have was a wastefield. Enough is enough. I am disgusted. We must quickly put an end to this downward spiral, this reign of terror and the intimidation and rebuild on a better fundament, "she suggests who has been an official of the Federation for a continuous period of twenty-two years.
What are her chances of becoming the boss of ice sports tomorrow? "I am confident. Some presidents of clubs who wish for change, like me, contacted me. They assured me of their support but they can not campaign publicly for me because they fear retaliation in the event of a re-election of Didier Gailhaguet. I am very familiar with the context, they'll live a hell if they openly support my candidacy and I can only understand their approach. However, the work that I started since last May 7 is already bearing fruit and some will be surprised, "she says.
The candidate to the presidency adopts a feminist rhetoric to strengthen her candidacy. "I did a lot of personal and professional sacrifices because I love my federation. I am not here to get dirtied by people who have no lesson to give to others. As a woman, I wasn't helped. In a misogynist France, women who aspire to high office must prove their worth as no man has to. I'm a fighter and I do not give up. I am ready to take matters in hand and give a new impetus to ice sports, "says the adoptive Strasbourgeoise who hopes that "this return to the Marne "will bring her luck.
Michel-Ange Marie-Calixte, the regular : "Gailhaguet must disarm "
"If the election was to be made by the applause, I'd be elected hands down. With all the negotiations, issues and lack of transparency, it will be very difficult. " Michel-Ange Marie-Calixte is running for the third time for the presidency of the FFSG. Former bobsledder speaks very strongly to denounce the "system Gailhaguet" that he finds imbearable.
"A manipulater has ruled the Federation for over ten years. He has shown he has neither the credibility nor the energy to serve as president. When an athlete doesn't succeed, he is fired but when a president does not assume his responsibility, he is left in charge. It's quite weird, this policy of double standards. " For this "rebel", "Didier Gailhaguet got catastrophic results, on both sports and finance. In such context, decency means he shouldn't run. In the Federation, everything is done ala Calimero (note from me : for those who don't know, Calimero is a nippo-italian cartoon of the 80s, Calimero is a chick whose main line is "It's not fair, I'm always the one who bear the brunt, it's not because I'm little and weak than ..." ; a perpetual and complaining victim). Thus on Saturday (tomorrow), the club presidents will maybe renew their trust to someone who uses the federal machine for personal goals.
"We must rebuild from the ground"
Is it anger that Michel-Ange Marie-Calixte is showing after his 50-month suspension by the Federation for hitting Didier Gailhaguet? "This is nonsense. It was a stunt. I've never hit Didier Gailhaguet. I weigh 100 kg and my shoe size is 48 (note from me : if conversions are correct 13 in US size, 12.5 in UK size). If I hit Didier Gailhaguet, I don't think he would recover. He would probably have register a complaint, there would have been a medical certificate but there is absolutly nothing.
I was summoned to a disciplinary commission in January 2010 and sentenced to 50 months of suspension of license. I appealed this decision and the 50 months were reclassified as three months and three months suspended, but until now I have had no official letter to inform me of the decision of the disciplinary Committee. I also initiated a procedure with the Olympic Committee because I believe that the rules were not respected by the Federation, "says the manager of the Paris Olympic Club.
The tall strapping lad from the 12th arrondissement of the capital does not mince his words and denounces the shortcomings of a federation "that deserves better". « The arrival of a new team with a new mindset would be saving. Didier Gailhaguet locks everything from the inside and his will prevails at the expense of objective choices. His record is not brilliant. We must rebuild from the scratch to stop the bleeding.
The inconsistent policy of Didier Gailhaguet has discredited the ice sports. Marie-Reine Le Gougne has been dragged through the mud after the scandal in Salt Lake City. She did not deserve it. The real culprit is Didier Gailhaguet.
All these reasons make me say that Didier Gailhaguet must "disarm" and leave room for those who really want to work for the development of ice sports in complete transparency. "
Didier Gailhaguet, the man to beat :
How hard it is to handle the duties of president! Didier Gailhaguet, candidate for his own succession to the presidency of the FFSG, has neither the time to take calls on his cell phone, nor the opportunity to respond to messages that are left on his voicemail. His hectic life leaves him no respite : to respond to emails that are sent directly to him is simply impossible. All our attempts to make contact with the strong-man of the FFSG have been unsuccessful.
President Gailhaguet did not wish to defend his record and the candidate Gailhaguet has not seen fit to respond to our requests, leaving the field open to his "political opponents." It's hard not to bow to such a brilliant campaign strategy.
Rama Yade doesn't want to speak
Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Sport, criticized the FFSG, speaking of "catastrophic record" for the Olympics in Vancouver. "The strategy of the French federation of ice sports should be reviewed," she said while criticizing Didier Gailhaguet for his remarks against the skater Brian Joubert.
When contacted, Rama Yade declined to comment further invoking a "busy schedule". "It would be easier to wait until the elections are completed. Next week, perhaps she will be more available to discuss the FFSG, "said Lola Bourget, Advisor Press of the secretary of state.
Claude Ancelet, the former president of the FFSG, vote for the renewal
Claude Ancelet was elected president of the FFSG in June 2006, prior to a motion of distrust of the Federal Council (23 votes for, 3 against and one abstaining) which ousted him in October 2007. Today, the former president of the Club of Charleville-Mezieres is only involved in the athletic part of skating and watches "from very far what happens in the Federation." The man from the Ardennes admits having been "pushed to the head of the FFSG by Didier Gailhaguet" but categorically denies having been the front man of the current president of the FFSG.
"My financial mission was useful. When I was elected, the Federation was on the brink, it was not far from the insolvency. I fixed things by selling the headquarters of the Federation, "says the accountant. "Once the finances were healthy, I did not grant some of Didier Gailhaguet's requests. There was a conflict and I was out of his good books. A political conspiracy was hatched against me and I was pushed towards the exit. Nobody makes me do what I don't want to do. It was maybe a miscalculation on the part of Didier Gailhaguet to believe that I was malleable and that the support to my candidacy for president would make me docile, "said the one who attended the hatch of the Ardennes skaters, Alban Préaubert and Roman Ponsart. What look does he have on the leadership of the Federation? "We have had the same people for too long. We need an opening, new blood. Marie-Reine Le Gougne knows very well the workings of skating both nationally and internationally. She has been involved in the Federation for long. She has the capacity to serve as president. Alexandre Piton has an even more interesting profile. He has been a high-level skater, and thanks to his professional career, he would be able to handle the administrative and financial management of the Federation. He is a well-rounded candidate who represents the renewal ", analyzes the Carolomacérien.