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A Troubling Situation for Skaters in India
by Lauri Dowling of FaSST Magazine

Lauri Dowling, the editor of Fitness and Speed Skating Magazine is asking the international skating community to help resolve a situation developing in India that she finds very troubling.
FROM LAURI DOWLING, EDITOR OF
FITNESS AND SPEED SKATING TIMES MAGAZINE

FROM LAURI DOWLING: "The skating situation in India is extremely troubling. FaSST has been trying to urge the powers that be for the past few years to step in. The following is a letter that I sent to all the members of FIRS board and the entire Speed Committee. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from any of them and the Indian skaters still do not have any answers. The Indian Nationals begin on May 20th. Please send your comments to the following emails to perhaps nudge the FIRS to do something instead of ignoring this whole mess. I hope you are as outraged as we are. Perhaps collectively we can yell loud enough."

WHERE LAURI SENT HER LETTER: For a list of email addresses to which Lauri sent her letter see this Hyper Forum Message

A CONTACT IN INDIA: The email address of the Indian gentleman who contacted lauri about this situation is footlose@rediffmail.com.

Here is the letter Lauri Dowling of FaSST Magazine sent to members of the International Roller Sports Federation:

A LETTER FROM LAURI DOWLING TO THE
INTERNATIONAL ROLLER SPORTS FEDERATION

Dear FIRS members,

Fitness and Speed Skating Times has long been a strong supporter of skating world wide and a champion of the efforts of FIRS. We are dismayed, however, at the lack of attention that is being brought toward the problems with the Indian Skate Federation.

Indian skaters are desperate for an answer and since the Indian Federation is offering no "official" comment, the decisions must fall to FIRS.

The outcome of this situation will affect skating in many countries besides India. Skating (particularly speed) is now a global sport and we need to present a united front -- all skaters are equal -- no matter their nationality. Our international governing body (FIRS) needs to be a beacon of strength for the oppressed. We must do these things in the eyes of the IOC to be treated with the utmost respect in our attempts to become an Olympic sport.

FaSST has followed the situation in India for several years and are appalled at the lack of action and decision. We will do whatever it takes to bring resolve to this matter. Is there a legal reason why FIRS cannot address this issue? Is there anything that FaSST can do to help? We want to work with FIRS, the Indian Federation and the Indian skaters to shed light on this problem and fix it immediately.

The big question is legally can the Indian Federation suspend skaters from competing in the National Championships because they skate in outside events?

There is a twist to this as well. Apparently, nothing "official" from the Indian Federation is being distributed. However, "representatives" of the federation are stating in newspaper and television interviews that skaters competing in outside events will be suspended for one year and will not be eligible to compete in the National Championships (scheduled for the end of May).

On a side note, these are the 2003 Championships because the Indian Federation did not host them last year. This gives you a sense of the lack of skating events for the athletes to participate. Is it any wonder that event organizers are trying to stage other events so that the skaters actually get a chance to compete against one another? There are no other "national" events.

The same "representatives" are showing up at the outside events and recording the skaters that are competing and are compiling a list so that these skaters will be barred from the National Championships. Getting around in India is extremely expensive for these skating families. They have to save every cent to be able to send their children to compete at the Nationals. Now they are not even sure if when their children get there, they will be allowed to compete. This is truly a DIRE situation. And no official decision has been made.

The decision about this very problem was loud and clear in the United States. According to the USOC it is illegal and against the Olympic code to deny athletes permission to participate in any event.

What is the international decision on this matter? Does this need to be taken to the IOC for a ruling? Please give your best effort to answer this as soon as possible as many skaters' futures are at risk.

We value any effort you can make toward this matter as we hold it very dear to our hearts. FaSST has a large subscriber base in India and our readers are anxious for a response.

Skating is growing exponentially in India and there needs to be clear and concise guidelines for event organizers and skaters. Thank you for your time. We look forward to hearing back from you very soon.

Kindest regards,
Lauri Dowling, Editor
Fitness and Speed Skating Times Magazine



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