SLAM!Sports
December 18, 2005
A bobsled fiasco
Brown waits for citizenship as Lueders fumes
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

It's about those 25 'Own the Podium' medals projected for the 2006 Turin Olympic Winter Games.

Get ready to scratch two.

Returning to the podium yesterday in Cortina-d'Ampezzo, Italy - his first success since winning gold in the two-man and bronze in the four-man bobsled at last year's worlds - Pierre Lueders is losing hope faster than he's gaining hope.

The hope he's gaining showed itself in Cortina with bronze. The hope he's losing comes with every day of the countdown to Turin.

It's 54 days to the greatest show on snow, and Lascelles Brown still doesn't have his Canadian citizenship.

"If we have to take him out of both sleds now, we're not going to win a medal,'' said Lueders in a telephone interview with the Sun after finishing third in the two-man yesterday in Cortina.

"He's the best. If he's not there, we're going to lose. If Lascelles isn't there, we don't have a chance.

"I can't do it by myself. I'm one man in a two-man sled. I'm one man in a four-man sled. He's a huge part of my teams.''

With Brown starting the season in limbo, the status of the Jamaican who pushed Lueders to the gold and bronze at last year's world championships has had an effect on the entire team.

"It's been a big part of our problem,'' said Lueders, who sits fourth in the two-man and fifth in the four-man standings, despite yesterday's third-place finish being his first time on the podium in either sled.

"This whole team has a big, black cloud hanging over it. As much as we try to tell ourselves it is not affecting us, the truth is that it is. We don't know if he's sliding or not. We don't know if he's going to be in the Olympics or out of the Olympics.

'IT'S SCANDALOUS'

"This should have been taken care of a long time ago. We've spent the entire last two seasons building to Torino with the idea that Lascelles getting his citizenship is not going to be a problem. It's scandalous, really.

"When you see how sport is run in Canada and how our government is run in general, maybe nobody should be surprised.''

Lueders doesn't care who is to blame.

"I'm very disappointed in the way they've handled it. It's disgusting, if you want my entire opinion on it. It's been a year and a half now. We were told this wasn't going to be a problem and that it was going to get done. I don't understand why it hasn't gone to the next step and got done.''

Lueders, who has 12 years invested buying his own sleds and designing his own runners which are manufactured in hometown Edmonton, lost Guido Zardo when his pusher pushed a member of the Canadian coaching staff with some alleged provocation.

Zardo was suspended then decided to quit the team and took an ill-advised shot at a pro football career with the Edmonton Eskimos that lasted about 1:47.17, the combined time of Lueders two runs yesterday.

Enter Brown, an athlete who waited three years to get his release from Jamaica.

NO DAYS DEDUCTED

Married to Kara, a Canadian citizen, and father of daughter Zody, 2, a Canadian citizen, Brown is about 388 days short of the 1,095 days for slam-dunk citizenship - and doesn't get days deducted while he's overseas competing for Canada!

But getting Bobsled Canada and their Calgary lawyers to get this through the government on special status is a stink bomb which now has a very short fuse.

This story is about to become an election issue and will become a major international story if Brown doesn't have his Canadian passport when the bobsledders head back to Europe for events in Konigssee, St. Moritz and Altenberg prior to the Turin Olympics.

Lueders, who won gold in the two-man at the Nagano '98 Winter Olympics, is the current world champion.

To lose his pusher on a citizenship issue involving politics will play big in places like Germany, Switzerland and Olympic host nation Italy. Not to mention Jamaica.

Jamaica finally gave Brown his release to become a Canadian.

They now trumpet his success as an expatriate world champion.

Somebody get this deal done before Lueders, who is more than eligible for the honour, carries our flag into old Juventus Stadium for the opening ceremonies - at half-mast.


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