Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes call for changes

Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cam Stones and Benjamin Coakwell of Canada celebrate winning the bronze medal in the men's 4th round at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Yanqing District in Beijing.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cam Stones and Benjamin Coakwell of Canada celebrate winning the bronze medal in the men’s 4th round at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Yanqing District in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

PA

A group of 82 Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes on Monday called again for the immediate resignation of their national federation’s CEO and high performance director, reiterating the need for a “truly independent” investigation into allegations of toxic culture at the within the teams.

These are at least the second known examples of the group of athletes – which is growing in numbers, starting in the 40s last week and has nearly doubled since – calling for the departure of CEO Sarah Storey and High Performance Director Chris Le Bihan.

The federation’s board of directors offered mediation instead, which the athletes say is not enough.

“There is a reason bobsleigh and skeleton athletes have chosen to publicly disclose their physical, mental, emotional and financial suffering as a result of (Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton) organizational failures,” the letter read. “After years of being ignored, belittled and ridiculed, we are not convinced that current leaders will do anything meaningful to fight toxic culture. We are tired of gaslighting and have lived too long silently.

Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes won two medals at the Beijing Olympics last month.

This is not the first turbulent period in recent years for the Canadian program. Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries has alleged she was physically and emotionally abused during her time with the team, prompting her to switch to the USA program in 2019 and become a Citizen last year in time to win a medal gold medal in women’s monobob in Beijing.

The current list of issues athletes want to address includes security, financial support and concerns that national teams are not being selected fairly. Some athletes also told The Canadian Press they fear retaliation for raising concerns.

“Our letter makes it clear that BCS has fostered a culture of fear, where it is very difficult for athletes to come forward and present their concerns openly,” read another part of Monday’s letter.

Naomi C. Amerson