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NBC News report: Data suggests Olympic figure skating judges are biased

Report cites judges allowed to score own country's athletes

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There is data to support the complaints that Olympic figure skating judges are biased, according to a report from NBC News. 

The report claims data shows Ukraine, Russia and South Korea topped the list of countries with the worst offenders in competitions in 2016 and 2017 — "but Canada and the U.S. also made the top 10."

Skating is by far one of the most popular winter games sports, and it's always one of the most controversial when it comes to scoring. 

From the report:

The underlying cause is its unique judging system, say critics. Skating presents avenues for biased scoring that don't exist in other Olympic sports.

Perhaps most important, the national skating federations, not the international body, pick which judges will be sent to a competition — and judges are allowed to score athletes from their own country.

In addition, judges who have been sanctioned for cheating can regain their eligibility to judge. Those who serve in leadership positions at their national skating associations are also still eligible to judge.

The report points to data that shows "judges from all countries, including the U.S., were more likely to favor their own." 

Dartmouth economics professor Eric Zitzewitz told NBC that the data shows "in 2016 and 2017 judges added an average of more than three points to the cumulative scores of their compatriots."

Read the full NBC News report here


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