Ice Skating: Harding's problem

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The Independent Online
EVEN though Tonya Harding resigned from the US Figure Skating Association after the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, the association has begun disciplinary hearing that could strip her of her national championship and ban her from membership for life.

'We have to maintain the integrity of the sport,' said Nancy Piro, chairwoman of the association's ethics committee and a member of the panel that will decide Harding's fate.

Harding will not participate in the hearing and will not be represented. Her lawyer, Bob Weaver, sent a letter to the panel outlining his contention that it lacks authority to take action because Harding is no longer a member of the association.

Under the association's bylaws, Harding could appeal against the inquiry's findings to the association's executive committee, and then to an independent arbitrator.

'Arguably, there's an appeal process, but that's assuming they have jurisdiction over Tonya to begin with,' Weaver said. 'We're not conceding that they have jurisdiction at all.'

The five-member panel decided in February that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Harding either was in on the plot to attack Kerrigan, knew about the plan and failed to report it, or made false statements about her knowledge of it.

It scheduled a hearing for March, but Harding went to court and won a postponement, arguing that she did not have enough time to prepare a defence.

The US Olympic Committee is awaiting the outcome of the hearing to determine whether it will take any action. Harding went to court to block the USOC's disciplinary hearing and, as a result, was allowed to compete in this year's Winter Olympics.