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On the way to the U.S. team tests in Colorado Springs in early 2020, Wasowicz was bursting with confidence and ready for destruction. But strange things happened during their games against rival Cirrus Lingl that day, according to Wasowicz and Ruiz – their claims were supported by both video footage and independent investigation.
John DiPasquale, the president and chairman of the USA-NKF, who has a huge impact on the sport, went behind the goalscoring table several times during Wasowicz’s game against Lingl. DiPasquale runs a top dojo in Illinois where Lingl trained, and during one of the first matches between the fighters that day, Wasowicz got angry because he felt DiPasquale was trying to sway the score in Lingl’s favor. During a break, Wasowicz and Ruiz decided that if she recurred, she would complain to the referee.
A video from one of those later games shows Wasowicz gesturing in amazement at DiPasquale as he hovered behind the table during a scoring. He can also be seen pacing up and down behind the table during the action, maybe just nervous for his fighter. But, as the USOPC pointed out, it looked inadequate and cast doubt.
Wasowicz claims she beat Lingl earlier in the day but didn’t get the points she deserved. This result kept Lingl in the competition and ensured that she and Wasowicz would fight again in the final. There Lingl, her own expert, won with a skillful headbutt. Furious, Ruiz dumped DiPasquale and accused the president of influencing the outcome.
When asked over the phone to comment on the investigation, DiPasquale said, “No chance, buddy” and hung up.
Others in the US federation rejected complaints about bias. “Maya is one of the best we have,” said Brody Burns, head coach of the US Olympic team and Sensei at a top dojo in Texas. “But it’s not like she lost to a no-name. She lost to a good fighter. “
Wasowicz agrees that she and Lingl are equal. But that day she felt better and should have earned a spot in the important qualifying race in Paris.