US figure skater charged with drug dealing

By Rightnow289 · Jul 11, 2009 ·
  1. Rightnow289
    Nicole Bobek, a US figure skating champion and Olympian, has been charged with helping to run a drug ring.

    Bobek, 31, could be jailed for up to 10 years after pleading not guilty in New Jersey to a charge of conspiracy to distribute the highly addictive narcotic methamphetamine.
    Bobek, who won the US title in 1995 and a bronze medal in the world championships, was once regarded as one of America's most talented skaters for a generation.

    However, the young athlete - once described as "figure skating's answer to Madonna" - had a reputation for poor discipline and teenage rebelliousness.
    She smoked, wore copious amounts of jewellery on the ice, went through 11 coaches and won her championship title while on probation for a home invasion conviction.
    Her alleged descent to the lowest, most desperate rung of America's illegal drug market has once more brought scandal to a sport usually associated with grace and elegance.
    Tonya Harding, another former US skating champion, achieved notoriety after she was involved in a conspiracy to injure her main rival, Nancy Kerrigan, in 1994.
    Kerrigan was hit in the knee by Harding's bodyguard as she left a practice session for the US championships.
    Harding was stripped of her skating title after admitting she had covered up the plot.
    She went on to attract negative headlines over the release of a pornographic "wedding video" and a string of alcohol-related run-ins with police.
    The latter included a brief jail sentence for assaulting her boyfriend and throwing a hubcap at him.
    Bobek, who has homes in New York and Florida, is one of 20 people arrested over the alleged drug ring.
    She was arrested in Florida as a fugitive from justice and did not fight extradition to New Jersey.
    In court this week, where she could be seen via closed circuit TV from the local jail, she wore short, dark coloured hair – a stark contrast to the glamorous blond of her skating days.
    "She played a signifcant role in this operation," Edward DeFazio, the Hudson County prosecutor, told the court.
    "She was actively involved in the upper echelon of this ring."
    He told the court that the charges against Bobek took place in New York.
    Bobek herself was once seen as one of the most talented American skaters for decades.
    She won the US Olympic Festival when she was just 12 and her signature move - a high-leg spiral - was even adapted by the five-times world champion Michelle Kwan.
    However, successive coaches were infuriated by her attitude to training and rebellious streak.
    When she won her 1995 title, she was on probation for breaking into the home of another skater in the Detroit club where she was training and taking money from a purse.
    Bobek went on to finish a disappointing 17th in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano and, soon after, dropped out of competitive skating completely.

    By Tom Leonard in New York
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