I’m not a fan of figure skating, but I am a fan of athletic competition. So needless to say, I was deeply disturbed last night when the Canadian pairs figure skating team was robbed by the judges. At the time, I found it odd that the judges who voted for the Russian team were the Russians, Chinese, Polish, Ukrainian, and French. The French judge clearly didn’t fit with the others. So today, we learn that the fix was in. The block of judges that was going to vote for the Russians no matter what managed to rope in the French judge, in exchange for a French gold in ice dancing.

What’s interesting about this is that it was an open secret in 1998 that the ice dancing competition was completely fixed. There is a block of five judges that agreed among themselves who to vote for, and thus cut the other four judges out of the game. The losers who run the figure skating “sport” ignored that, and now the corruption in ice dancing has ruined pairs figure skating as well. I honestly believe that the quality of judging at the Westminster dog show this week is higher than the judging in figure skating at the Olympics.

I honestly cannot imagine what it feels like to do the best you possibly can only to be cheated by judges with ulterior motives. I’d imagine that it robs you of the very impulse that drives you to compete in the first place. And the thing is, this sort of bias and favoritism rears its head in every facet of regular life. Who gets hired? Who gets fired? Who gets promoted? Rarely are these decisions made based strictly on performance, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, after all. The world of athletic competition is supposed to offer us some sort of refuge against this sort of thing. The judges in Salt Lake City chose to take that away. Shame on them.