- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Organized crime has infiltrated unions, government, construction and now … ice dancing. In a brutal tableau of our times, reputed Russian mobster Alimzhan Tokltakhounov (even he doesn't know how it's pronounced) is accused of fixing the ice dancing and figure skating competitions at the Winter Olympics.

In his own defense, Mr. Tokltakhounov says the charges are a "farce" and that he doesn't even follow ice skating. But then, all heterosexual men deny that they follow ice skating.

Skating officials claim the plot involved vote-swapping between judges from Russia and judges from France, possibly resulting in wins for the French ice-dancing team and the Russian pairs figure-skating team. And to think, some gangsters are hijacking trucks full of cigarettes.

How exactly did this plot hatch? Did Mr. Tokltakhounov have a "sit-down" with his boss and pitch the Idea?

Crime Boss: So,

Mr. Tokltakhounov: Please, call me Al.

Crime Boss: Sure, Al, what's your latest job? … extortion, prostitution, hijacking a truck full of cigarettes?

Mr. Tokltakhounov: No … ice dancing.

Crime Boss: Say what?

Sadly, this is not the first black eye for figure skating. When Tonya Harding paid a goon to smash rival Nancy Kerrigan's knee, we first saw skating's seemy underbelly.

Then, America's heart broke once more when we overheard Nancy Kerrigan telling Mickey Mouse that she felt "stupid" riding in a Disney float. Not to mention how stupid she must have felt pouring her heart out to a man in a rodent suit.

What does all this ugliness mean? Is it proof that:

A) There really is a gay mafia?

B) Don King may start promoting the Ice Capades?

C) The mob is running out of ideas?

If you chose C, you are probably right. After ice dancing is mobbed-up, what is left? Sumo wrestling? Girl Scout cookies? The wicker industry?

Apparently, the death of John Gotti has left a larger void in mob leadership than anyone realized. The mob should stay out of ice skating for the same reason it should stay out of platform diving … because it's just plain wrong.

Organized crime should stay where it belongs in casinos and strip joints and the stock market.

Phil Perrier is a Los Angeles-based writer and stand-up comic.

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