It's the olympic season but hey, what is better as a preparation than a little war of nerves with the president of your federation ?
And, well, Gailhaguet is at war.
He wants "his" skaters and dancers to obey him unconditionally. To leave their coach. To move where he wants them to move (right now, abroad). And he's fully in action this season to force them to do so.
He sent Carron / Jones to Shpilpand.
As they didn't want to go, he twisted Péchalat/Bourzat's arm, threatening to cut their funding if they didn't go to Shpilband.
But this leverage was inadequate for the skaters / dancers training at home, since they are either paid by their club or the very best coaches are granted the rank of "entraineur national" (national coach) and then paid directly by the government within 4 years contracts. (Bercy's coaches, Champigny's, Lyon's and Annecy's have been "entraineurs nationaux" for years). Having dancers of the caliber of Papadakis / Cizeron should guarantee that kind of contract for Lyon.
As the nomination of national coaches is the privilege of the president of the fed, Gailhaguet was free not to reconduct their contract, at the end of the olympic cycle. But Gailhaguet couldn't wait that long, so he specifically asked the Sport Ministry to revoke the contracts of Lyon's and Annecy's coaches before term. The sudden transfer of those salaries without warnings is an unexpected and substantial weight for those clubs who are struggling to make up for the loss. But that wasn't enough to convince the skaters (Marrocco and Gilleron-Gory did obey ; curiously, Ventard and Mahamoud who refused didn't receive any JGP assignment) or the dancers to move away from their training center.
Actually, to balance that a little bit, Papadakis / Cizeron who were still officially members of the Clermont skating club "moved" their membership to Lyon at the begining of summer. As members of the french team, their club receives some public funding directly. That was a way to open a little umbrella over Lyon which should grow with them going senior.
Anyway, the federation who registers the memberships has actually refused to register Papadakis / Cizeron as members of Lyon's club, which is completly against the rules. Gailhaguet has officially made them part of the Club France (a virtual club for skaters who are at odds with their club like Joubert a few years ago) which means the money goes directly in the fed's pocket. He didn't even tell them what he did. It's people in Lyon and Cizeron's father (president of the Clermont club) who realized in August that things were not as they were supposed to be and asked for explanations.
Remember Anissina in June, suddenly wanting to come back and to train with Zazoui in Lyon ? Umbrella number 2 ? That Gailhaguet refused anyway.
But that was still not enough. Lyon asked the federation for the visit of technical specialists to work and verify P/C's technical levels in July. Those specialists came to Lyon for Péchalat/Bourzat, Papadakis/Cizeron were not granted their visit then. Another appointment was made, much later. The technical specialists cancelled the day before, sorry to be caught "in a tense situation". So Lyon asked the help of an Italian technical specialist. Gailhaguet has denied the whole thing but the newspaper L'Equipe has seen the emails about the appointment, the cancellation and the "sorry" response of one technical specialist.
Lyon is furious. Papadakis / Cizeron and their parents are furious and Gailhaguet is probably preparing the next dirty trick he's going to play on them. Schoenfelder has written to the Sport minister for help. Don't know if he expects a stern look from the minister which would make Gailhaguet back off (if the fed's public funding is threatened in retaliation) or if Lyon hopes a direct help to circumvent Gailhaguet's power but the atmosphere is pretty much poisoned.
The article from L'Equipe is not available on the internet.
Here it is :
Quibbling on ice
Young dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron unintendly got themselves at the heart of federal disputes that undermine french figure skating.
At eighteen, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, vice world junior champions in March, are incredibly talented but they are at the center of the war that has poisoned for months the relations between the Academy of Lyon, where they train, and Didier Gailhaguet, the president of the French Federation.
Club change denied
In the press file of the Masters , young Papadakis - Cizeron still represent Clermont-Ferrand . It was the case until July 18 . But in the offseason, they wanted to change for the ice sports club of Lyon, where they have trained for two years. With documents and subscription checks as proofs , licenses Nos 9093 and 8631 show the move. Except that, president of Lyon's club Eugene Peizerat underlines in a letter to Didier Gailhaguet from July 30 , " athletes (...) were crossed out from the CSG Lyon's member list ." The president of the FFSG justified that on August 30 by referring to the tensions between Lyon and the federation. "Both athletes are currently members of the club France , where their rights as protection will be unfailingly respected," he wrote back. Yesterday, he said "In cases of conflict, the club France is a transitional solution . " Gailhaguet talks about offers (from his part). Marc Cizeron , father of Guillaume and president of the club Clermont club ( ACDG ) subtly analyses a decision he considers arbitrary in a letter he sent on September 24. He critics the move " made without the consent ( of the dancers ) or , at least, their opinion", and without being informed himself . "You are flouting the rules of the federation over which you preside , he said , Gabriella and Guillaume consider your actions as an attack against them. " To which (Gailhaguet) replies that Lyon is "a mercantile structure that imposes dictatorship on a purely economic basis ." Warm atmosphere.
Arguments and monkey wrench
Early in the season , a control is usually performed to validate the technical levels of difficulty. Demanded to the FFSG , this expertise was refused to Papadakis - Cizeron at the end of July , as two international technical specialists , Christine Hurth and David Molina, were in Lyon to check Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat's programs . Didier Gailhaguet denies but an exchange of emails proves that an appointment was made on September 14 with Christine Hurth , who had her hotel booked, before she cancelled the day before her visit , mentioning "a situation of tension ." Usually calm, Olivier Schoenfelder , one of the coaches of the couple, wrote to Valerie Fourneyron , the Sports Minister on September 25. He finds those authoritarian decisions regrettable. "I'm asking Mr. Gailhaguet to preside and to stop interfering in training strategies . If he has the desire to manage the athletes , I would suggest that he sits the exam for becoming a sport agent and that he quits his position for the good of our sport , " he quips . In the end, the expertise of the programs was performed by Michela Cesaro , an Italian.