Ice Skating: Harding inquiry seeks a quick conclusion

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THE INQUIRY by the US Figure Skating Association into the conduct of Tonya Harding is expected to reach a speedy conclusion.

William Hybl, a former president of the US Olympic Committee, who is the chairman of the disciplinary panel, said that he expected a quick decision because the evidence being considered was distributed to members more than a week ago.

He said that he regretted Harding's decision not to give evidence to the inquiry. 'It is her decision. I'm sure that the panel would prefer she would be here to testify, but the process is going to go on,' he said.

A lawsuit brought by Harding forced the postponement of the hearing until now, to give her time to prepare a defence. Ironically, she then decided not to appear, arguing that the panel has no jurisdiction over her because she has already resigned from the association and from retired amateur competition.

The panel met for the first time on Wednesday evening to consider what action, if any, to take against Harding for her role in the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. The meeting was adjourned after two hours.

Kristen Matta, of the association, said that the inquiry would hear from two witnesses in person and one on videotape. Their names were not revealed. The panel will also hear from John Bennett, the lawyer they hired to investigate the case. Most of the evidence will be taken from the testimony collected during the lengthy criminal investigation of the attack.