COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a swift reversal, the 2023-24 Cohort of the USA Fencing Board of Directors has, in an emergency action, voted to suspend the changes to rule t.109 announced earlier this week and mandated by the 2022-23 Board.
Today’s Board action means that the new interpretation of rule t.109 is suspended until further notice and that previous applications of the rule should remain in place. That means the following interpretation is once again valid and will be until further notice:
In USA Fencing competitions, coaches and spectators are allowed to give advice to fencers, but cf. t.130, as well as t.131 and the associated USA Fencing note. In all situations, coaches and spectators must not disturb the order of the bout.
The change was supposed to take effect today (Sept. 1), but the suspension will give the incoming Board of Directors time to discuss an appropriate way forward at its upcoming Board retreat, held Sept. 8–10 in Denver, Colo.
The move is the first official action of the 2023-24 Cohort of the USA Fencing Board of Directors. Ivan Lee OLY, Damien Lehfeldt and Abdel Salem OLY-Egypt begin their three-year terms today.
The Board motion, made by Peter Burchard, reads as follows:
Motion (Mr. Burchard): To suspend the implementation of rule T109, and revert the use of this rule to its previous language and interpretation, until further notice.
Rationale: The intent of the motion originally brought was to bring USA Fencing in line with the FIE; suspending its implementation as currently stated allows USA Fencing’s Board of Directors to discuss an appropriate way forward for this rule at its’ annual meeting, this coming Sept 8-10, 2023.
Here’s a reminder of how we got to this point:
April 16, 2023: The 2022-23 Cohort of the USA Fencing Board of Directors adopts a motion to revise rule t.109 in the USA Fencing Rules. The move makes the earlier exception (seen above) invalid. The Board asks the Referees’ Commission to provide guidance to referees, fencers, coaches and other fencing stakeholders on the application of the revised rule.
Aug. 19 and 20, 2023: The Referees’ Commission, following the instructions of the Board, meets to discuss the intention, implications and implementation of the revised rule.
Aug. 30, 2023: The RC provides its new guidance about the Board-mandated rule change, as outlined in our article here.
Sept. 1, 2023: On the day the revision is to take effect, which is also the first day of the new Board term, the 2023-24 Cohort of the USA Fencing Board of Directors votes to suspend the revision to t.109 to give the new Board time to discuss a way forward with the rule.