I just found out that USSPEEDSKATING had been negligent in reporting my official retirement to the U.S.O.C. How did I find this out? Well, yesterday I received in the mail a 1099-misc, which is a Miscellaneous Income form, a copy of which will be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, stating that I received $3150.00 in nonemployee compensation from the United States Olympic Committee.
As it turns out, the U.S.O.C. was not notified of my retirement until November of 2006, and so they kept me on their Elite Athlete Health Insurance plan for the year of 2006. Therefore, I am now responsible for paying taxes on $3150 in benefits that I had no idea I was getting.
I am aware of the official rules for elite athlete retirement. The athlete's responsibility is to notify the federation (USSPEEDSKATING) of their retirement, in writing. Also, the athlete is responsible for informing US Antidoping of their retirement (which I did promptly in early January of last year). Upon receiving the notification of the athlete's retirement, it is the responsibility of the federation to notify the U.S.O.C. of the athlete's retirement. USSPEEDSKATING failed to do so.
Now, in this post, I will restate my retirement plans, and my reasons for retiring WHEN and HOW I did. Let this post also serve as my official testimony for Mr. Howard Jacobs, an attorney who was hired by a group of short track skaters' parents to investigate unfairness on the part of USSPEEDSKATING.
I retired immediately following my 1000 meter race on December 31, 2005, at the U.S. National Long Track Championships, which was one of the competitions taken into account in the selection of the 2006 Olympic Team. On that day, I had prepared a written statement of retirement. This statement was signed by at least a dozen witnesses. These witnesses included Chief Referee Ernie Kretchman and U.S. National Sprint Coach Ryan Shimabukuro.
Approximately 10 minutes following my 1000-meter race, I handed my signed statement of retirement to USSPEEDSKATING President Andy Gabel. I can contact a friend who has photos of me handing this statement to Gabel.
The reason why it was important for me to retire immediately after my last race at the so-called "Olympic Trials" was in protest of unfairness in USSPEEDSKATING's Olympic Team selection criteria, and in protest of the composition of the actual Olympic Team Selection Committee, which was inherently stacked three to two in favor of USSPEEDSKATING Team athletes, and against athletes from alternative training programs.
I felt that the Olympic selection rules were completely open-ended, allowing the selection committee to take results from the 2005 Fall World Cup season and the U.S. Nationals and spin the results in the best interest of their chosen athletes. I felt that the particular individuals chosen for the 5-member Long Track Olympic Team Selection Committee WOULD do this, because three of the five members were individuals who were employed and paid by USSPEEDSKATING to work directly with skaters who trained in USSPEEDSKATING programs.
At the time of my retirement, I had not qualified for the Olympic Team outright but was next in line to be added, and at a roster of 8 women, USSPEEDSKATING had not yet filled its quota of women for the Olympic Team. They had the option of adding two more women, for a total of ten. I retired because I knew that I would not be added to the team, even though either I or the woman who finished immediately behind me would have been better choices for the Team Pursuit event (due to our superior ability to hold steady lap times at high speed, and our superior ability to match teammates' strides while skating together). However, I believed that an inferior choice for that event would have her position on the Team Pursuit protected because she was a member of a USSPEEDSKATING training team, while I and the woman who finished behind me were not.
Another reason why I believed the Olympic Team selection would be unfair is because of an alleged relationship between one of the committee members and the Team Pursuit skater at the center of the controversy. Though the exact nature of this relationship was never fully exposed, many people felt it was blatant enough to demand the exclusion of the administrator in question from his position on the Selection Committee.
Further information came out that proved me right in my assessment of the situation. Following the original Selection Committee decision on the women's team, which in fact was NOT to add additional women to the team, a coach of one of the other women's Team Pursuit skaters DEMANDED A RE-VOTE on the women's team, stating that in the best interest of his own skater's medal chances in that event, he wanted to replace (the skater at the center of the controversy) with Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr -- the woman who had finished behind me at the Trials. But the Selection Committee stood by their original decision.
A couple of months later, during the Olympics in Torino, I got an email from a spectator saying, "If either you or Nancy had been on that pursuit team, then all the women would have gone home with a medal."
As a side note, two extra men WERE added to the 2006 Olympic Team, filling USSPEEDSKATING's quota for male athletes. Both these men were members of Tom Cushman's USSPEEDSKATING Allround training team. I believe that Cushman, a member of the Selection Committee, pushed for the addition of Charles Ryan Leveille in part to justify allowing this skater to walk-on to the National Team prior to any qualification competitions earlier in the fall, and I believe that he pushed for the addition of Clay Mull to make up for betraying and neglecting Clay (and the rest of his own team, paying more attention to Charles, whom he had just "discovered") leading up to the Fall World Cup Qualifier and thereby screwing up Clay's chances of qualifying for the Olympic Team in the 5000 meters.
As it turned out, USSPEEDSKATING did not bring enough women to Torino, and embarrassingly failed to fill its full entry quota in the 1500 meters -- an event that either Nancy or I would have loved to be able to skate. USSPEEDSKATING had failed to take into account the severity of the injuries faced by two of its female skaters, both of whom declined to compete in that event. The next woman who could have been entered in the 1500, who happened to be the one at the center of the Team Pursuit controversy, declined to skate because she "hadn't been given at least 24 hours' notice."
I believe that the events surrounding and following the selection of the 2006 Olympic Team proved that I was right in considering the USSPEEDSKATING Selection Criteria unfair, and that I made the right decision by retiring on December 31, 2005. It is a shame that USSPEEDSKATING did not follow through and report my retirement to the U.S.O.C.
The fact that I retired on the last day of 2005 is well known and well documented. On the day of my last race, I walked into the Utah Olympic Oval a competitive speedskater, and I walked out of the Utah Olympic Oval a retired athlete. By January 1, 2006, I was officially NOT A COMPETITIVE ATHLETE but a molecular biologist who had re-entered the job market. I was employed by the end of February and at that time I started getting health insurance through my work.