The desire to win at next year’s Winter Olympics has outstripped Canada’s sense of sportsmanship, according to the executive director of USA Luge.
Ron Rossi says a 30-year-old agreement between the Americans and Canadians — in which both nations allowed each other’s teams unprecedented access to their luge tracks — has fallen apart.
Canadian lugers were allowed as many as 500 extra training runs in Salt Lake City, but Americans have only been offered 18 training runs on 2010 tracks, Rossi said.
“The Canadians have given out the proper amount of training that’s prescribed in the rule book,” he said. “But we’ve had a relationship, and it’s been rendered of no value. I guess I take it a little personally.”
“The desire of winning has outstripped the honour of sportsmanship,” Rossi added.
American long-track speed skaters are complaining of similar parsimony.
In the year leading up to the 2002 Winter Games, foreign skaters were given unlimited training access at the Utah Olympic Oval, said Marc Norman, facility operator at the venue in Salt Lake City.
He said it’s “a little surprising” the Richmond Oval has only given foreign skaters two weeks to train.
“If that’s the way it’s got to be to gain a competitive advantage, that doesn’t really seem all that great,” Norman said.
However, Tom Kelly, a spokesperson for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, said his organization has had no issues with access to 2010 venues.
“We’re competing around the world all the time, so we’re accustomed to going to different venues,” he said.
VANOC CEO John Furlong said the organizing committee is playing by the rules and is simply ensuring our athletes benefit from home field advantage.
“Foreign athletes are getting fair access,” he said, adding it’s standard for the home country to have home field advantage.
“There’s nothing unsportsmanlike about helping to prepare your own team and give them a good chance to be successful,” he said.
“There’s a set of rules that govern who can get on to venues and we live exactly by those rules,” Furlong said.