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Ukrainian judge suspended by the ISU for 2 years, subject to appeal

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by Sylvia, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. babayaga

    babayaga Well-Known Member

    That's what I'm wondering too. Could it be that a certain level of corruption is actually convenient for ISU? I don't see any other reason why they insist on keeping anonymous judging.
  2. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    As I understand the logic,

    Judges as individuals generally take pride in their work and want to judge according to the standards they have been taught and not according to politics. Their federations often put pressure on them to help out their home country skaters.

    Since federations are responsible for judges getting international assignments, the judges feel that they can't disobey their federations' wishes and call it like they see it without risking the loss of future assignments or other loss of privileges.

    Federation leaders could make deals with other federations themselves, or they could charge the judges with making those deals with the other judges when they get to the event.

    If the published marks are associated with the names of the judges who gave them, then the federations will know whether the judges obeyed the instructions or not, and deal-making judges would know whether the people they made the deal with lived up to their side of the bargain.

    This kind of pressure on judges to manipulate results is much greater at the important international events, where the stakes are higher.

    If the scores are scrambled, the people applying the pressure will not know whether their judges obeyed. (In theory. In practice it could be possible through cryptography to figure who gave what scores, if the federations are sufficiently motivated to police their judges' obedience.)

    Without worrying about punishment from the federation, judges feel freer to give the scores they honestly believe each skater deserves.

    Now, I personally don't know how much that explanation represents the real source of any corruption that has been a problem in figure skating throughout its history, and how much individual judges have been dishonest on their own initiative with no outside pressure.

    But assuming that most corruption does stem from federation politics and not from individual initiative, then hiding the responsibility for each score from the organizations applying the pressure would diminish the motivation of judges to succumb to that pressure because the organization that has power over them would not be able to prove they disobeyed.

    Historically, the intention behind most cheating has been to manipulate placements, with the goal of getting medals, or top-10 results, or advancement to the final round, etc.

    However, as we see from this example, with the introduction of minimum scores required for championships means that there is now also motivation to ensure that skaters achieve higher technical scores regardless of how they actually place in the event. And so we see an example of a judge trying to pressure another judge to help her country's skaters achieve that minimum score (in addition, presumably, to inflating their GOEs herself).
  3. babayaga

    babayaga Well-Known Member

    But the federation can still demand the judge to tell them which marks they gave? They can still make deals with other federations and federations can share the information about which column represented their judge after the competition. I think at the end of the day the federations may very well know what scores several "friendly" judges gave, just not the skaters or the fans thus no scandals, everything is nice and quiet.

    Still thanks for your response, gkelly.
  4. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Well, if a judge wants to judge honestly and avoid the wrath of the federation, they could lie. :)

    Which wouldn't help them much if they were still highest on the home-country skater, just not as high as the federation wanted.

    And the more recent scrambling of columns from one skater to the next not only would make any cryptographic attempts to identify which judge gave which column much more difficult, but it also might make it hard for judges themselves to remember which column of numbers was theirs for any particular skater. They might well remember what they gave the home country skater, if they had a reason (such as federation interrogation, or personal attempts to manipulate) to cement those numbers in memory before leaving the stand. But otherwise, they're probably going to remember specific GOEs or PCS only if they were particularly memorable -- for many skaters, hours or days let alone weeks after the fact, they might look at the columns in random order and have no idea which was their own.
  5. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    You would think it should work this way but it turns out this is way too simplistic a view. In fact the vast majority of elements are done Ok enough that a 2 or even 3 point GOE range among the judges goes unnoticed. It isn't even all that unusual to see the same element marked in the negative GOE by some judges and in positive GOE by other judges. As someone mentioned upthread, it is as simple as giving your preferred skated an extra GOE on most elements while giving his/her/their main rivals one less GOE than you might otherwise have given. Is anyone going to remark at 0 GOE when most other judges have given +1? Then do the same with the PCS marks and it can add up to a swing of several points (especially if you have tea and a chat with your friendly judges, apparently).

    This is the excuse the ISU uses to justify anonymous judging, but I think a lot of folks believe it as mostly just a smoke screen. The real reason the ISU want anonymous judging is because it keep the media and fans ignorant of which judges and giving which marks. No more Tracy Wilson with her tables of numbers with red circles and arrows on TV talking about judging blocks. No more complaining over shenanigans by the East German judge, etc, etc, etc. If we can't see what's really going on, we can't do much more than whine vaguely while the ISU laughs up their sleeves.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
  6. babayaga

    babayaga Well-Known Member

    I am afraid I believe that many judges actually are willing to work together with their federation, I am just not very optimistic about human nature. And it's not like they have to memorize the scores they gave to many skaters - only their own and maybe one or two others who they promised to support. That's very doable. And this is already enough for serious manipulations if done regularly.
  7. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Okay, gkelly, thanks. That's a very enlightening explication of the "anonymous" reasoning: its done to protect the judges from their federations. :duh:

    I'm not disagreeing with the reasoning or questioning its validity as you explained it. Obviously, the anonymity is definitely to protect the judges. But, personally I thought the anonymity was put in place after SLC more to protect the judges from public scrutiny in case of any scoring controversies. As a result, the honest judges can continue trying to do their thing and the judges susceptible to tweaking their marks for whatever political reason can still do their thing. All in all the ISU probably feels with the blanket anonymity and scrambling of marks no one is the wiser either way, unless of course behind-the-scenes conspiring and influence peddling gets too open or goes too far and is reported, such as in the case of the Ukrainian judge.

    Still, pardon me for thinking that anonymous judging is like trying to stop bleeding from a gaping wound with a bandaid.

    Even if the judges feel more comfortable, does that make them more competent? Where's the accountability?
  8. LongTimeLurker

    LongTimeLurker Member

    And therein lies the problem.