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Rough Waters: Two Would-Be Governing Bodies Making Waves About Stand-Up Paddling

11 Jul, 2018

By: Michael Popke

The International Surfing Association (ISA) isn’t backing down from its position that is should remain the national governing body of stand-up paddling (SUP). Since last year, the International Canoe Foundation (ICF) has fiercely challenged that role and, in the words of SUPRacer.com, “stak[ed] a rival claim and forc[ed] a gridlock that has left SUP communities in limbo.”

In an announcement posted on ISA’s website on June 18, the national governing body headquartered in San Diego, California, “set out further key details to address misinformation about the governance of SUP, including claims by ICF that they are acting out of the best interests of the athletes.”

“The ISA has, without question, a clearly defined history and tradition for governing Stand Up Paddle, dating back to 2008 when the sport was first included as a core discipline in the ISA Guide,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre said in a lengthy statement. “Since that time, no other IF has governed SUP in any capacity. We find the claims by the ICF to the contrary to be disingenuous, at best. As a matter of fact, the ICF has yet to organize any world championship or even international SUP events. These are factual, historical and on the record matters.”

In response, and as reported by Inside the Games, the Switzerland-based ICF “claimed they had kept the discussions with the ISA ‘professional’ and not engaged in a ‘public slanging match.’ The organization added that “it is not our intention to change our approach now” and claimed no organization should have a monopoly over a specific sport.

Earlier in June, the ICF announced it will host the first ever Masters, Juniors and Inflatables Stand Up Paddling World Championships at Esposende and Viana Do Castelo in Portugal beginning Aug. 30.“Our National Canoe Federations all around the world have been working hard for several years to develop SUP as a sport, and now we are seeing the benefits of that hard work,” ICF President Jose Perurena said in a statement.

The ISA would like to have the issue of SUP governance resolved by the Court of Arbitration for  Sport (CAS) — “so we can progress to a resolution in the interests of all, and most importantly, the athletes and competitors that take part across the world. Ultimately, they are the ones who suffer.”

Indeed, the dispute has already cost stand-up paddling its spot at the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games in San Diego next year. Additionally, ISA alleges that ICF boycotted the inclusion of SUP in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.

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