Controversial International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) President Gary Ream is to chair the new Tokyo 2020 Skateboarding Commission set-up following the sport’s acceptance onto the Olympic programme, it has been confirmed.
As the only IOC-recognised body with a connection to the sport, the official governing body for new street and park events will be the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS), led by Italian Sabatino Aracu.
But Ream, the American entrepreneur and skate camp organiser, will lead the organisational panel billed as a “collaboration” between FIRS and the ISF.
He will be joined by FIRS executive director Simone Masseini and athlete representative Neal Hendrix, who is also an employee of Ream.
Significantly, this means the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF) chaired by Tim McFerran has been cut-out of the process after initially being involved in discussions for a four-man body.
McFerran has filed a lawsuit against the ISF fighting his exclusion from the process, claiming he was sidelined despite signing an agreement and investing both money and resources into preparations.
His absence also means no member of the three-strong panel has direct experience in organising skateboarding competitions.
IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell repeatedly claimed to be "very happy and comfortable" with the system selected.
“I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world,” said Ream in a statement.
“We’re excited to have that opportunity in Tokyo thanks to the IOC’s Agenda 2020 and the creation of the Tokyo 2020 Skateboarding Commission.”
Aracu added: “This is a monumental achievement that makes our organisation proud to be part of."
“It will be our duty at the highest level to make sure that the presence of skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympic Games meets the highest expectations.”
In the lawsuit, a copy of which has been seen by insidethegames, it is claimed an agreement for the four-person Commission was made earlier this year, with a press release drafted - but never sent out - to publicly confirm this.
"The structures beneath the Commission are up to development, but the structure of the Commission is clear and we are very happy moving forward," added McConnell when questioned directly about McFerran's role.
The lawsuit also claims that the ISF do not meet IOC anti-doping standards and have cancelled recent drug testing programmes due to fears athletes would test positive for banned drugs.
An "improper relationship" is also alleged between Ream and Christophe Dubi, the IOC's Executive Director of the Olympic Games who has been heavily involved in the process above McConnell.
According to the lawsuit, Ream provided Dubi's son with free training at a skateboarding camp owned by him and hired a consultant with whom the IOC official had a "personal relationship".
He also supposedly boasted about a "'special relationship' with an IOC official [Dubi], in order to leverege others in the skateboarding community to support ISF".
Ream is considered an unpopular figure within much of the wider skateboarding community, while there are concerns that FIRS' influence could lead to a loss of identity.
The WSF welcomed today's decision to add the sport to the Olympic programme, but insisted they are the ony "truly global skateboarding-only federation" and that the ISF "simply does not represent the broader based skateboarding community".
Both Ream and the IOC refused to respond to questions about the lawsuit today, with the IOC claiming they are "groundless".
FIRS are now expected to take the lead on "institutional matters" - including anti-doping, match-fixing and illegal betting - while the ISF will uphold "freedom of self-expression, passion and creativity".
Time will tell if it proves to be an ill-fated marriage of convenience or a genuine partnership.