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SHOULD PROS BE ALLOWED TO COMPETE IN OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATING?
Published November 28, 1994
"The recent profusion of professional and amateur competitions, pro-ams, exhibitions and made-for-TV events has thrown figure skating into chaos." The Int'l Skating Union (ISU) allows skaters to make millions as pros, then lets them return to amateur status. "Everyone's confused over who's eligible for what. Which is why pressure is growing on the ISU to end the hypocrisy and open the Olympics to everyone in 1998." Skater Paul Wylie: "The line is pretty bogus between pro and amateur. In the end, the best scenario for skating is to open it up." For example, Oksana Baiul has turned pro, but wants to defend her Olympic gold. She can make as much money as she wants as long as she declares amateur status by next April (John Powers, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/27). In New York, Jere Longman examines the skating world: "If this dizzying expansion has meant money for skaters and promoters, ratings for the networks and viewing opportunity for fans, it has also resulted in a byzantine, contradictory and confusing jumble of rules and eligibility requirements" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27). WRESTLING ON ICE? U.S. Figure Skating Association President Claire Ferguson -- who is a member of the ISU -- calls pro competitions (such as CBS' recent "Ice Wars") "bogus" because they lack uniform rules. "Without these controls, she said, figure skating could lose its legitimacy as a sport and devolve into theater, as professional wrestling has done." Ferguson believes the threat will fade "once the current set of champions" such as Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt retire from competitive skating or once TV audiences "wearied" of seeing essentially the same performances week after week (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27).