A dispute is ongoing to become the United States' national governing body for skateboarding ©Getty Images

Two bodies are each vying to become the recognised national governing body for skateboarding in the United States in a dispute which bears many similarities with last year's contest to become the international entity in charge of the sport.

The dispute pits USA Roller Skating (USARS), a body already recognised to run roller sports in the country which has little specific experience in skateboarding, against USA Skateboarding, an organisation linked to Gary Ream, the new head of the Skateboarding Commission within World Skate.

A final decision over which one will be recognised should be made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

insidethegames understands the USOC Membership Working Group is currently conducting a review on the two bodies and will provide a recommendation to the Board. 

It will not, however, be put to the Board of Directors at their meeting due to be held on Friday (October 13) in Colorado Springs.

Skateboarding was among five new sports added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year along with baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing and surfing.

It came following a protracted series of negotiations which ultimately saw the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) selected as the world governing body, rather than a specific skateboarding organisation.

Neither the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) nor the World Skateboarding Federation (WSF) were eligible to apply because they were not recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

ISF President Gary Ream was appointed head of an FIRS Commission governing the sport, however, while the Tim McFerran-led WSF opened a lawsuit against rival bodies after appearing to have been cut out of the process.

The USOC Board chaired by Larry Probst is due to make the final decision on the skateboarding applications
The USOC Board chaired by Larry Probst is due to make the final decision on the skateboarding applications 

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell praised this structure in FIRS - who have now been re-branded as World Skate as part of an amalgamated body with the ISF - in an interview with insidethegames late last month in which he welcomed their "growing partnership".

However, many disputes are continuing at a national level between roller skating and skateboarding-specific groups.

Six-time Summer X Games park champion Pedro Barros has vowed to boycott the skateboarding competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games if the Brazilian Confederation of Skate was not chosen as the governing body.

This came despite the Brazil Roller Sports and Hockey Confederation having been selected as the body responsible by the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

A letter was sent to all National Olympic Committees by the IOC on August 11, 2016 during which they requested they recognised all national bodies affiliated to the respective National Federations for the five new sports.

It added, however, that "in the case of skateboarding, a more specific approach may need to be adopted on a case by case basis, to best reflect the reality of the sport in specific countries".

USARS have no long-term experience in skateboarding.

But Article XIV of new bylaws which came into being on January 1 this year specified for the first time how skateboarding was among the 10 disciplines that they govern.

A new Skateboarding Commission was also introduced, with the head of SkatePark Association International, Heidi Lemmons, listed as acting chair.

McFerran, the head of the WSF, was also listed as a "special adviser" for this group in the minutes of a USARS meeting dated October 29, 2016, but it is not clear to what extent he is still involved.

USA Skateboarding, meanwhile, are a somewhat opaque body about which not too much information is known.

An official application submitted to USOC earlier this year, seen by insidethegames, lists their principal office as Woodward in Pennsylvania.

This is the same small town where Ream is based and where the ISF is located.

Gary Ream is the head of the Skateboarding Commission within World Skate ©ISF
Gary Ream is the head of the Skateboarding Commission within World Skate ©ISF

No officials were listed in the application but Josh Friedberg - the ISF executive director - was listed as the "USA Skateboarding chief executive" when speaking at the Olympic SportsLink Summit in New Orleans on August 20.

Having similar officials entwined so closely in both national and international federations raises questions about the governance and impartiality of the organisation. 

An article in Real Skate has also speculated that Ream, a business and skate camp entrepreneur who owns Camp Woodward, may have commercial incentives behind harbouring control at a national and international level. 

Neither Ream nor Friedberg have yet responded to insidethegames' requests for a comment.

"I believe that both the purported ISF and USA Skateboarding organisations were ghost entities, from our research it was very difficult to obtain any information at all on either one," answered McFerran when asked about his involvement.

"I have advised [USOC chief executive] Scott Blackmun and the USOC that they need to thoroughly investigate the group that they align with, so as to not open themselves up to liability and be embarrassed in the future.

"Personally, I have no confidence that Reams group will work in the best interest of skateboarding."

World Skate are also yet to respond to insidethegames' requests for a clarification on which claim they support.

USOC are unable to give any public update on progress so far.

The major challenge for whichever body is selected will be ensuring that all leading American skateboarders are available for consideration to be selected.

McConnell and the IOC claim to be confident that this will happen, but concerns have been expressed elsewhere that only selected skaters will be invited to appear at qualification events.

Street and park events will be contested.