Top cheerleader leaves post

SIMON FULLER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

Dena Clark has resigned as coach of the Blue Lightning cheerleading and dance team amidst a haze of controversy after raunchy online pictures of cheerleaders surfaced on several sports web sites last week.

A Winnipeg Blue Bombers spokesman confirmed Saturday that Clark had stepped down from her post, but declined to comment on the reasons behind the departure.

Clark did not return a phone call from the Sun.

One picture from an online gallery of saucy snaps taken during the 2004 Grey Cup in Ottawa shows a smiling Clark on a hotel bed with other girls, but does not appear to be suggestive or inappropriate.

But more provocative pictures show different women in skimpy underwear, bikinis and various states of undress, as well as a duo who appear to fondle each other in their Blue and Gold uniforms.

One cheerleader is naked apart from hand-cupped breasts in one shot and seen mooning the camera on Ottawa's Parliament Hill in another.

After the pictures surfaced, the Bombers said in a statement that they did not authorize or endorse the pictures, which belonged to an ex-Blue Lightning cheerleader.

A 2007 Blue Lightning member told the Sun the pictures were stolen from a computer owned by another cheerleader and never intended for public eyes.

Some public eyes think the on-field scoring record of the Bombers is more important -- in light of their 0-4 record -- and the picture saga is being blown of proportion.

"I've seen worse," said Bombers fan Jeff McDowell, who was shopping at the Bomber store yesterday. "If you take a picture these days it's going to end up somewhere. It's not like they're really that bad."

'MORE RESPONSIBLE'

"Based on (the Bombers') performances so far this season, nothing can hurt the image of the club," he said.

Fellow fan Nicole Strizevsky said she thought the shots were inappropriate.

"Even if they were partying in their own time, they should have been more responsible," she said.

Clark told the Sun in 2003 that the Blue Lightning squad has included medical students, teachers and cops over the years.

She defended stereotypes about cheerleaders being more beauty than brains and emphasized the levels of professionalism and dedication needed to make the team.


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