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Harding Loses Title and Is Banned for Life

July 01, 1994|From Staff and Wire Reports

The U.S. Figure Skating Assn. finally got its chance to pronounce judgment on Tonya Harding Thursday, and the verdict was harsh.

She was stripped of the national championship she won in Detroit on Jan. 8 and was banned from the association for life.

The decision in Colorado Springs by a five-member disciplinary panel appointed by the association was unanimous.

Harding's actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, "evidence a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior," the panel said.

William Hybl, the former U.S. Olympic Committee president who chaired the panel, said Harding's admission March 16 that she had conspired to hinder prosecution of those responsible for the attack was the most important factor in the decision. But the panel believed Harding's involvement went much further.

Harding denies that she knew of the attack before it occurred, but Hybl said the panel was convinced otherwise.

"I think it's a cumulative effect of a lot of evidence," he said. "I will tell you that various records--bank records, phone records--and the way they came together to establish a case really were very important to this panel."

Harding remained in Portland, Ore., her hometown, and did not participate in the two-day hearing that ended with Thursday's decision.

"It is difficult when you don't have a person here to defend themselves or you don't have their counsel," Hybl said. "We went to special efforts, I believe, to make sure that the athlete in this case had everything in evidence that we had at our disposal that would be exonerating in any way."

Harding has 30 days to appeal to the USFSA executive committee. Under the organization's bylaws, if she does appeal and is not satisfied, she can then appeal to an independent arbitrator.

Bob Weaver, Harding's attorney, indicated that an appeal was unlikely.

"It's been her decision up to this point not to contest these proceedings, but she's made no final decision on the appeal," he said.

Weaver issued a statement on Harding's behalf saying she was disappointed by the decision. He said Harding was not surprised, however, because she did not appear at the hearing to defend herself.

"She categorically denies the statements of Jeff Gillooly (Harding's former husband and convicted planner of the attack) and others relied upon by the hearing panel that she had any prior knowledge of or participated in the assault on Nancy Kerrigan," Weaver said.

"Tonya Harding is going on with her life. Whether she skates publicly again remains to be seen. She is grateful for the support and faith of her many fans."

The association considers the 1994 national championship vacant and its executive committee will decide whether anyone will be named to fill it, USFSA spokeswoman Kristen Matta said. Michelle Kwan of Torrance finished second in the U.S. competition.

Jurisprudence

A woman who claims Jason Kidd fathered her child has filed suit against him, asking for $10,000 a month in child support payments.

The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday, the same day the All-American point guard from California was the second overall selection in the NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks.

Alexandria Brown, 21, mother of 7-month-old Jason Kidd Jr., also is seeking a house with a back yard in Hayward or Vallejo, a $25,000 car, medical insurance and $10,000 for furnishings. Brown and the child live in a one-bedroom apartment.

The suit said that Kidd's paternity was established May 26 in San Francisco Superior Court. The baby was born in November, and Brown said she had to quit her job as an airline reservations clerk because Kidd refused to pay for child day care.

College Sports

Graduation rates for NCAA athletes in the second year of Proposition 48 generally kept pace with the gains made in the first year, and women did better than men.

Overall, 57% of all athletes graduated who enrolled in NCAA Division I schools in the 1987-88 academic year, NCAA statistics indicate, compared with 56% of the general student body.

The findings include nearly 300 Division I schools and count only students who received athletic scholarship aid. A 1987-88 freshman was allowed a six-year degree program.

Miscellany

Karch Kiraly, the top-ranked player in pro beach volleyball, will not play in the Manhattan Beach Open beginning today. Kiraly suffered a kidney bruise three weeks ago while diving for a ball during a tournament in Colorado and has not competed since.

Kiraly has won the Manhattan Beach Open six times, including the last three with partner Kent Steffes. Together they have 11 tournament victories on this year's Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour. Steffes will be seeded No. 1 in the 48-team tournament with new partner Scott Ayakatubby.

Names in the News

Dale Earnhardt, who drew the last position among the 47 stock car drivers who made qualifying runs for Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, won the pole position and kept Loy Allen Jr. from winning his fourth pole of the season.

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