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As an ex officio contributor to the Task Force to Combat Competition Manipulation in DanceSport, which the World DanceSport Federation, WDSF, President Lukas Hinder had installed in spring of 2016, I oversaw all aspects of communications related to a process that sought to fully restore the sport's integrity. Quite possibly, it was the most difficult assignment I had taken – ever.
The most idiosyncratic form of competition manipulation in DanceSport evolves from an undeniable conflict of interest that arises every time that key stakeholders in WDSF competitions switch from one important role to another. At one instant, these stakeholders
are coaches, trainers or athletes' support personnel in another capacity – and at the next, they turn into refereeing or supervising officials. Without putting anyone's ethics and integrity in question, the two roles are simply not compatible enough to be assumed by one and the same person. Add to this the dynamics of the free marketplace, where a trainer's "value" increases with every victory claimed by one his or her charges, or where the "popular" trainers with the most charges under their control are likely to get the most judging assignments, and the problem is compounded further.
Only three months after the first meeting between the three task force members as well as a select number of contributors to their work, the Combat Competition Manipulation White Paper describing the origins and the extent of the problem was published. To much acclaim! In its very first version, the paper already identified specific areas of focus for the task force's continued work over the next months.
From this point, it was a matter of finding a balanced and effective approach for the task force to communicate the results of its deliberations and its ongoing work to the different constituent groups in international DanceSport.
The time I was able to work alongside the three outstanding men making up the Presidential Task Force to Combat Competition Manipulation in DanceSport provided me not only with unique learning opportunities every step of the way, but also with the enrichment that is brought about by the conviction that one is fighting for a worthy cause.
POLICY / STRATEGY