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  1. #1

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    Gailhaguet's war against Zazoui (Papadakis/Cizeron caught in the middle)

    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 :

    MASTERS

    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.

  2. #2

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    How old is Didier? Long past time for the French Federation to get out from under his heavy-handed machinations.

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    He's only 60.
    15 years younger than Cinquanta.

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    Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln. It's amazing that French figure skaters get anything done under that cloud of chicanery.

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    I can't believe that this Bully and THUG hasn't been banned for life from the sport, especially after his masterminding (including alleged involvement with Russian organized crime) of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics shenanigans. He got a suspension from that, I believe, but he should never have been allowed back.
    Dick Button Historical Quote of the Month: "Good for you, Lucinda Ruh!"

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    Adding to all this, it is no secret that Didier is planning to run for President of the ISU in 2016 when Cinquanta will finally be stepping down. I hope that the ministry of sport can deal with Didier, the sooner the better.
    There is nothing more captivating in this world than a woman's form gracing the ice in skating boots. It's simply sensational!

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    Gailhaguet is an idiot . Usually I'd hold off such harsh judgement on a person, but it is Didier that we are talking about. The fact that he is still the president of the French Skating Fed. baffles me, the idea that he wants to even be close to ISU presidency makes my stomach turn. Like Visaliakid,I also hope the French ministry of sport can put him in check.

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    God help this sport if this idiot becomes head of the ISU. He'd make Speedy look great.

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    And this is the guy,who called Camerlengo a worm? Jesus! I hope,Gailhaguet didn't destroy P/B's chances to win an Olympic Medal.

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    Thanks, Nmsis. Interesting reading. Is there any chance that he might be replaced? Who would be the candidates?

    Quote Originally Posted by Proustable View Post
    Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln. It's amazing that French figure skaters get anything done under that cloud of chicanery.
    Exactly. Sometimes I see people suggest that French skaters get results because their federation is so effective - um, what? It's mainly effective at jerking them around.

    It's a wonder that Joubert's survived more than a decade of dealing with this. I know that officially he gets along well with Gailhaguet, but I do wonder about that, as he seems to be doing whatever he wants - or at least, he has in recent years.

    What I don't get is what Gailhaguet has against Lyon to begin with.

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    Zazoui is a great coach and choreographer,every country would be glad to have her.I don't understand,why he is working against them.Shouldn't he support them,since they are the only world class ice dance coaches in France?

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    DG doesn't care about the future, all he cares is about the now and how the skaters could make HIM look good so that he can stay in power.
    Since all those stupid old coach are all against him, he got rid of them.
    The idea behind it isn't bad, the way he's done it ....
    Anaïs Ventard, french national champion, has been banned from the Masters because she didn't agree on coming where HE wanted her to go.
    Papadakis / Cizeron are doomed unless they go where DG tells them to.

    How to get rid of him ? Noone has managed that so far. Maybe the only way would be for skaters to unite against him. But I doubt it'll happen.

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    I know this sounds juvenile, but couldn't a certain petition be started against him to have legal action taken. It could be signed by skaters, coaches and the public alike.

    Don't understand how he bars skaters out of competitions though, aren't there rules against that?

    Anyway, what an idiot. He's clearly an unhappy man to be doing all this.

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    Amazing mess. While DG is the head of the Fed, aren't there any other officers? Board Members? Where are they in all of this, besides apparently sitting silent? What about the French legal system, does it offer recourse for skaters vs the French Fed (or DG personally), like a civil suit?

    The ISU members must never allow this guy to take over the reins.

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    Wouldn't it be great if, during the Olympics coverage, Tracey Wilson could do an 'expose piece' on this? Likely not to happen because of monetary ties/interests between NBC and the ISU but, hey, one can dream.

    Gailhaguet was in the thick of the 2002 Salt Lake judge-buying scandal, which involved (among others) Zazoui ice-dance team Anissina/Peizarat. Maybe Zazoui tried to stop the dirty dealing? I'm wondering if there is any link.
    Dick Button Historical Quote of the Month: "Good for you, Lucinda Ruh!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemgirl View Post


    What I don't get is what Gailhaguet has against Lyon to begin with.
    Neither do I. It's been where all the success in ice dance came from after the Duchesneys. It doesn't exactly make sense to go against the person who's been your country's most successful ice dance coach in over a decade

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    This is one fecked up situation.
    Rockin' Finnish commentator: "And that was supposed to be a flip but it turned out to be a flop."

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta24 View Post
    Zazoui is a great coach and choreographer,every country would be glad to have her.I don't understand,why he is working against them.Shouldn't he support them,since they are the only world class ice dance coaches in France?
    Nope. Because that takes him off the equation. Zazoui is independant. So far, Papadakis / Cizeron owe Gailhaguet nothing. He didn't help them to get the french nationality, he didn't decide anything about them, he doesn't pay for their training. There is no leash. He can't claim their future results. And when Gailhaguet sees someone who may be worthy of his attention, he wants to be directly associated with him/her/them and to push aside anyone who was previously in position to put one's name of their results. If Péchalat/Bourzat medal, it will be thanks to him. HE made them go, HE found Shpilband, HE paid for the training. If they fail, of course, they are on their own. It's the cuckoo strategy.


    Quote Originally Posted by vmfan89 View Post
    Don't understand how he bars skaters out of competitions though, aren't there rules against that?
    Not within the federation. Athletes should go to the Sport Arbitral Court to claim their selection. But that's nothing more than an arbitrator. Gailhaguet won't be forced to follow its decision.


    Quote Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
    What about the French legal system, does it offer recourse for skaters vs the French Fed (or DG personally), like a civil suit?
    It can't be a civil suit. As it is about the use of public money and an administrative aspect of its function, the french federation is suable in an administrative suit (a particularity of french law when dealing with government and government-linked institutions, which includes specific courts and specific rules). Several administrative courts have already condemned the FFSG (for selections, for its finance management ...). But it is less likely to push the money button as it is less about financial compensation than making such an institution follow the rules. Only the government can push the money button (as private sponsors are scarce) and threaten to withdraw some or totality of the fed's funding (or circumvent the federation altogether and find a way to give funding directly).


    Quote Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
    Amazing mess. While DG is the head of the Fed, aren't there any other officers? Board Members? Where are they in all of this, besides apparently sitting silent?
    There is a Conseil Fédéral :http://www.ffsg.org/vie_federale/ins...l_federal.html who can throw off the president and his executive committee. And some of its members are not sitting silent. Nathalie Péchalat (along with Zoé Blanc, Vanessa James, Surya Bonally, Stéphanie Bouvier - short-track skater, Christine Hurth the technical specialist ..., even Raymonde Joubert is part of it) is actually a board member and she told the journalists about the arm twisting.
    But :

    1° the Conseil Fédéral is far too large to be effective : there is 31 members. It takes some logistic to gather them all and to coordinate anything. (I don't know how it was before the overhaul of the rules Gailhaguet did when he came back after being overthrown by the previous Conseil Fédéral)

    2° 2/3 of the members of the Conseil Fédéral must agree to overthrow the president. So between Gailhaguet's friends, people who were not informed of the case (there were), people who would not easily be able to go to an exceptional session, those who are angry a bit but not enough to push for such a move and those who really are, a 2/3 majority may be difficult to reach.

    So even if the possibility is there, it's logistically very complicated to organize.


    Quote Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
    The ISU members must never allow this guy to take over the reins.
    Well, the ISU employees should be worried as well if he was to. The FFSG has known an impressive number of nasty litigations with ex-employees (cases lost by the FFSG). The amount of the bills of the FFSG's lawyers has been denounced by the Cour des Comptes (something like a general accounting controller) as astronomical.


    Quote Originally Posted by Frau Muller View Post
    Gailhaguet was in the thick of the 2002 Salt Lake judge-buying scandal, which involved (among others) Zazoui ice-dance team Anissina/Peizarat. Maybe Zazoui tried to stop the dirty dealing? I'm wondering if there is any link.
    That's a disservice to the case against Gailhaguet.
    In France, it's pretty much a given that Gailhaguet was used as a scapegoat in Salt Lake.
    Federations telling judges how they are supposed to give notes to such and such, federations trading notes for their skaters, Eastern or Western block voting, those morally dubious "traditions" of the figure skating world have been exposed at length in french newspapers long before Salt Lake.
    So the whole shy virgin reaction of the ISU and the north american outrage vs big meanie Gailhaguet kind of fall flat.
    A bit like when people reproach Gailhaguet to have invented Bonaly's place of birth. Seriously, how many fake stories did the USFSA and ABC (or other tellies and probably some other federations) invented over unexisting rivalries or friendships and fake girlfriends for closeted skaters. The only difference was that the fed, the skaters and the TVs were in unlike the Bonaly case where only Gailhaguet and Bonaly's parents were in.
    Making him a victim is really the last thing that would make the french governement or the members of the FFSG go after Gailhaguet. He's bad enough on his own.

  19. #19

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    This is my take on on the french fed and Gailhaguet's situation.

    Before WWII, sport was exclusively a private sector in France. Everything changed after WWII. During the war, people suffered from SEVERE malnutrition. Children were in really bad health. It was decided that sport would be one of the ways of reconstruction. Sport became associated with health and national interest, more than competition. But there were little left of the pre-war infrastructures. So the government and the cities intervened to build new infrastructures and to help the (private) sport federations financially so they would be able to take massive amounts of children in charge as quickly as possible.

    If nowaday, the largest federations have changed their model toward a more competitive and business friendly kind of organisation, the little ones are still living on that model and governments from the right as well as from the left have kept on the same supportive policy. That's why they saved the FFSG from its financial meltdown in 1998, why Gailhaguet can stay in his position (the FFSG is a private organisation, the government has no say in it, just in how public money is used) and why public funding (which should be renegociated at the end of this olympic cycle) is their only string to pull. The change must come from within the federation. The next elections are in June.

    The president of the FFSG is elected by the presidents of the clubs. It is hard to find datas as the federation doesn't publish anything. If you watch the FFSG's website, almost everything is out of date since 2 years, the only thing that is updated regularly is Gailhaguet's schedule. The change about Lyon and Annecy are not even notified. They are still announced as "Pôles" and Lucine and Zazoui as national coaches. So as long as it was not published in the press, not everyone within the federation and no one out of it knew the story. That's one of the way to "help" the Conseil Fédéral not to react.

    Anyway, some people (not the head of the fed but people at a lower level) do publish some informations. So my estimation is that around 200 club presidents vote (105 for figure skating, around 30 for dance, 24 for ballet, probably the same for synchro skating and the rest split between short-track, curling, bobsleigh and sledge).

    It is those people a candidate must convince. But Gailhaguet is letting no one be a "natural" candidate. All the "old" champions of the FFSG are pushed aside, once their sport career is over. So each time, there are the old-going-nowhere candidacies (Le Gougne, Callixte) and a "mushroom" candidacy that pops up a few weeks before the election. The last time, Gailhaguet more or less refused to register the candidacies in time to be published. And launched malevolent rumors on the other candidates.

    In 2010, Gailhaguet won by a landslide. I suspect he actually had a deal with Lucine. Kind of "I let your son skate for Monaco and the region Rhone-Alpes (the most important after the Paris region where Gailhaguet has his alliances) doesn't bother me at the election". Poor Alexandre Piton who had the perfect profile (ex-elite dancer, ex-financial director at Eurosport, on the verge of getting a high profile job within the administration) failed miserably. Direct opponents were keeping it low and others were "who is this guy ?"

    This time, the opposition should be much more vocal. But can they unite ? Can they stop being in their corner and actually talk and find a name they can all agree on ? Can someone actually make positive propositions instead of simply being an anti-Gailhaguet candidate ?

    Right now, president of the FFSG is a unpaid, volunteer position (as in the old little "amateur" federations). Gailhaguet is the guy who wants the position the most and he's doing it "for free" (actually, he was getting paid a salary by the INSEP, a national sport body, for courses he never gave ; that was stopped a few years ago ; don't know how he's doing now). One thing the government is thinking about is pushing the federations toward modernisation, to have paid presidents at their head, so the positions would be a real "work" and not some position people would keep indefinitly because they are doing it for free. They are also thinking about limiting the numbers of mandate to 2, about an age limit, about making all the members vote instead of the clubs presidents, everything that would modernize sport federations, that they should do by themselves but aren't as long as the governement leave them alone. But it's a slow process as it is simply about pushing, not about forcing rules onto federations.

    Gailhaguet knows the general trend is playing against him. He is the black sheep of sport federations as far as the government is concerned. But he's going to hold on as long as he can. He's 60. He can at least try for another olympic cycle before things become really complicated. If he's reelected, he'll have to renegociate governmental funding very soon (1 negociation per olympic cycle) with the Sport minister who will probably make some pressing demands as conditions to open her wallet.
    Last edited by Nmsis; 10-06-2013 at 07:42 PM.

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    This reminds of the Rodionenko's who ru(i)n Russian gymnastics.

    How do people like this stay in power?!


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