With investigation over, no one will know if judge's alleged impropriety cost Spanish ice dance team an Olympic spot

Olivia Smart and Adrià Diaz, shown at the 2016 U.S. International Classic, may have missed Spain's 2018 Olympic team because of a corrupted result.  (Getty Images)

Olivia Smart and Adrià Diaz, shown at the 2016 U.S. International Classic, may have missed Spain's 2018 Olympic team because of a corrupted result.  (Getty Images)

The International Skating Union said Monday it has dropped disciplinary proceedings against a Belarusian judge due to his resignation.

That means it likely never will be known if a Spanish ice dance team lost a chance to go to the 2018 Olympics because of Alexandre Gorojdanov’s alleged violations of his duties as judge.

It also means the ISU’s inexplicable position not to give an automatic lifetime ban to any judge or referee found to have violated the ethical rules of those duties allowed Gorojdanov the chance to potentially corrupt the results of another competition.  The Belarusian had served a 6 1/2-month suspension from Jan. 13 to June 30, 2017, after having been found in violation of the ISU code of ethics as a pairs referee at a 2016 event.

Globetrotting reported exclusively Dec. 20 both that Gorojdanov was under investigation for his actions at the Golden Spin of Zagreb Dec. 6-9 and reported later that the status of the investigation had become uncertain when he resigned 18 days after the competition from his positions as an international judge and referee.   Gorojdanov's letter of resignation was dated Dec. 27, six days after the ISU received a formal complaint against him, "together with 5 exhibits."

There has been no reason for the resignation made public in the official communications related to it.  In an email Monday, Alexander Lakernik, the ISU vice-president for figure skating, said the "indicated reason was health condition: he had a brain stroke during the event."  

The ISU removed Gorojdanov from its officials list Jan. 10, creating the means to end the investigation.  He was the only Belarusian qualified as an ISU championship judge in ice dance.

The ISU disciplinary commission’s decision said “that due to Mr. Gorodjanov’s removal from the ISU officials list its jurisdiction in this matter has ceased to exist. . .”

See no, speak no, hear no. . .

The results of Golden Spin had a significant effect on the Spanish ice dance selection for the 2018 Olympics.  The short dance scores of Gorojdanov and Russian judge Maria Abasova for the top two Spanish dance teams at Golden Spin, as calculated and published in an Instagram post by Mark Lee of the Skating Protocol, could be seen as largely responsible for determining which Spanish team is going to Pyeongchang.

Spain picked its dance team based on the combined scores of its top teams at Golden Spin and the Spanish National Championships a week later.

Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin, the latter a Russian ice dancer who has represented Spain beginning last season, wound up winning the spot by less than a point over Olivia Smart, a Briton who represents Spain, and Adrià Diaz, 328.12 to 327.17.

“The Spanish Federation knows about all the ugly details of Zagreb,” Marie-France Dubreuil, who coaches Smart and Diaz, said in a text message Monday.  “Before Spanish Nationals, we asked them in the name of fair sport to not take the Zagreb scores into account.

“Wee got a nice email back. . .they were gonna do what’s right.  They are the only ones who could do something about the selection, and they didn’t. Very disappointing.”

Xavier Cherta, general secretary of the Spanish Ice Sports Federation, told Globetrotting by telephone in late December, “We consider the results of Zagreb official and the results from our nationals official.”  A message seeking further comment, send after business hours in Spain ended Monday, was not immediately answered.

Smart and Diaz earned the Olympic dance spot for Spain with their 18th place at the 2017 World Championships and won December's Spanish Championships.   Hurtado and Khaliavin finished eighth at last week's European Championships.  Each was the only Spanish entry in those international events.

In the Golden Spin short program, Hurtado-Khaliavin, who train in Moscow under Russian coaches, gained a 4.02-point advantage over Smart-Diaz.  The Skating Protocol’s breakdown showed Gorojdanov and Abasova had by far the biggest disparity between their scores for Hurtado-Khaliavin and those for Smart-Diaz, with the gap more than nine points.

Another judge at the Zagreb competition, who was not working the dance event, became so concerned about Gorojdanov’s actions during the short dance that he shot video of what he saw happening.

Gorodjanov had been selected to judge both parts of the senior ice dance event at Golden Spin but was replaced for the free dance, with no reason given.

Globetrotting obtained a 27-second clip from the video.  That clip shows Gorojdanov using his judge’s screen in a way that suggests he could have been re-entering or changing marks.

During that process, he dropped a piece of paper into a basket, picked it out again and appeared to be writing something on it.  He also appeared to be talking to Abasova, the judge on his right.   It is unclear whether she was speaking.

Under rule 430 (f) of the ISU Special Regulations & Technical Rules, Single & Pair Skating and Ice Dance, judges cannot discuss their "marks or decisions and marks or decisions of other Officials during the competition with any person other than the Referee and/or, for members of the Technical Panel only, the other members of the Technical Panel of the part of the discipline in which they are serving."

There were also reports of potentially questionable behavior by another judge on the panel at Golden Spin. To the question of whether the actions of that judge are being investigated, Lakernik wrote, "I do not want to comment at this moment: the investigation is going on."