It always sucks for an athlete when reporters write about you being injured or cut, but don't bother to call to check the facts.
That's the situation Katie Weatherston, a 2006 Olympic women's hockey gold medallist from Turin, found herself in this week. Left off the roster for the coming worlds team and 2010 Olympic camp, she's now fielding sympathy e-mails and calls comforting her on the end of her career.
"The papers had it seem like I was riddled with injuries," said Weatherston, 25, a native of Thunder Bay. Actually, she has a concussion. Has had it for three months now, and before that a fractured foot and displaced rib.
"It has been a frustrating year and it's been an important year," Weatherston said. "The fight's not over yet. I'm going to try to battle my way back."
I felt the media owed Weatherston a call so I made one. Turns out that her understanding, in talking with head coach Melody Davidson, is that "the door is not open, nor is the door shut on my status. I just want to earn a tryout."
So it's not that Weatherston failed, but that she was never well enough to be assessed this year. That kind of distinction matters to athletes. If the timing works out, she may get a chance later. It's not a pleasant spot to be in. But at least let's get the story right.
If this sounds like a sore point for me, it is. I can vividly recall how exasperating it was to be an athlete in a similar situation. Being hurt doesn't mean you're silenced.
Despres speaks out
Banned bobsleigh athlete Serge Despres is speaking out to protect other athletes' careers and reputations.
Despres piloted Canada's bobsleigh team at the Torino Olympics in 2006 but was banned from competition after accidentally testing positive for steroid use in 2007 from a contaminated supplement.
Despres will speak about the risks of accidental doping at the March 31 launch of The Clean Sport Initiative, a program sponsored by Platinum Naturals, a Richmond Hill nutraceutical company.
But what is this program and is it legit? I asked the anti-doping agency Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.
"It is a certification process that we have recognized as being the best way for athletes to minimize their risk for an inadvertent positive test," said the centre's Rosemary Pitfield. "They do extensive audits of facilities where products are being manufactured to try to ensure that products that athletes want to take are in fact safe for them to take."
Along with the 198 substances on the banned list, dangerous substances like lead, arsenic and uranium have been found in products. The program is also affiliated with the NFL and MLB. At the moment, Platinum Naturals' Activ-X sport multivitamin is the only multivitamin in Canada that is certified by NSF's Certified for Sport program.
Plus, minus for women
In the plus column, we have the retirement of alpine skier Thomas Grandi in favour of family life and supporting his wife in her sport. Sara Renner, an Olympic silver medallist in Nordic skiing, has better medal chances in Vancouver 2010, Grandi acknowledged. His comeback season hadn't gone as well as hoped, and juggling two international sport careers and their two-year-old daughter, Aria, became too much. Now he'll get to be a full-time dad while Renner is a full-time athlete.
In the minus column, the women's ski jumping issue is no closer to being resolved. The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity has added its name to the growing number of organizations calling on the IOC to include women's ski jumping in the 2010 Games.
"There is still time to reverse this decision, and to see these Olympic Games remembered for gender-equity, rather than for this unfortunate ruling," said CAAWS chair Nicole Smith.
There are over 10,000 signatures on the online petition at www.wsj2010.com.