Note Sportscene – Publishing the open letter and video above from athlete Lucien Delfour is not to criticise the judges who often sacrifice their own time and money to judge slalom races around the world under (extreme) pressure. We trust however that asking attention for abuse like explained in the below accelerates for example:
- The development of (judge) supporting techniques [Olympic medal winner Thomas Schmidt develops the “intelligent slalom gate”]
- Professionalising procedures and eliminating arbitrariness
- Change of leadership if required
Open letter Lucien Delfour – Athlete
“And the ICF derails again.
I ended up 4th in the final of Prague this weekend. A touch was given to me on gate 13, which cost me a 3rd place on the podium, however I was certain I did not hit it. After a long review by the chief judge, the penalty stays! How??
I quickly go to the video tent, to confirm what I already knew: there is no touch [see video above]. My coaches do not see it either, the different angles we have show that there is no way I hit the gate. However the results become official and besides, with the new “no enquiry in final” rule, there is nothing we can do.
The Chief Judge would not tell us how I allegedly touched the gate, and it took them more than 3 hours to produce the gate judge’s paper and tell us what they saw: “Left arm and left pole”. Description proved wrong by the different videos. The Chief Judge certainly took a long time to come to a decision, as they couldn’t see the touch, simply because there was none. Chief Judge Jean-Michel Prono said to one of my coaches that it was NOT impossible for me to have hit the gate.
So theoretically, I didn’t touch the gate, but, there is a slight chance I touched it… so it’s a touch anyway..!??
No! The videos show I perfectly cleared the gate…!
ICF, please note that this is the case for every single athlete, that have gone through every single gate on the course, clear or not, this rule does not make any sense.
Not only the lack of transparency from the whole review process is appalling, but Fair Play and Fair Competition have completely disappeared..
The video is crystal clear: I did NOT touch the gate, only one judge saw the pole move (it was windy, i’m not responsible for that..), and the penalty description is wrong, the penalty simply cannot stand.
If that isn’t enough, the Chief judge broke the Canoe Slalom Competition Rule 29.8: “At all times, the benefit of any doubt must be given to the competitor.”
The gate negotiation is so clear it is way past the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, the benefit of the doubt should have been given to me regardless.
I would like the ICF to explain to me, and everyone else, how this case fits in a fair sport environment, as for someone outside (or inside) the sport, it may have the looks of results tampering situation.
Secondly, I witnessed something new today: a C1M final with 11 competitors.
Long story short: Matej Benus should have been disqualified for having fins on his boat, which is against the rules, but the Chief judge did not decide to disqualify him?? Why?? Rules are rules!? Instead, Edern Le Ruyet was added to the final start list…
This is absolutely not within the rules of our sport, what sort of due process is this?? Where is the fairness in this? Where is the rule that says the Chief Judge can alter the start list as they please? Since when do we change the number of participants of a World Cup Final after a semi-final?
I would like the ICF to clarify this situation, as it is beyond reason.
I love my sport, and I’m very disappointed in the way it is being run.
As an athlete, I have seen terrible decisions, I have myself experienced some very questionable judgements on too many occasions, but this has gone way too far.
Apologies to my friends and fellow paddlers Matej and Edern, whom I highly respect, for citing their names, I’m trying to be as factual as I can.