Criticism rolling in against Canada

Luge officials refuse to let policy issue rest

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Chris Mazdzer of the USA competes in his second run in the men's singles Luge competition at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Saturday, February 13, 2010. (Al CHAREST/QMI Agency)


WHISTLER, B.C. - If Canadian officials hoped criticism of the tragic luge death that marred the start of the Games here on Friday would just go away, they are sadly mistaken.

Instead, it’s only getting louder.

The head of the U.S. luge federation was sharply critical of the fact that Canadians restricted training time of athletes from around the world, a policy that has become a full-blown controversy since the death of young Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run for the men’s single event which will be completed on Sunday.

“I understand that countries want to win, but please justify to me why you wouldn’t let the Georgians train,” Ron Rossi said, referring to the restrictive policies the Canadians used prior to the Games.

“Lots of drivers make errors, but they don’t come flying out of the track,” Rossi said earlier Saturday. “They need to be asking questions about the lack of training time and the lack of track designer accountability.

“I’m going to propose rule changes so there is more training time for all.”

Australian luger, Hannah Campbell-Pegg was worried about the track prior to the Olympic competition and is sickened by it now.

“It’s such a tragedy that this happened,” Campbell-Pegg told the Herald-Sun in her homeland. “They had to push the envelope and it’s so unfortunate something like this had to happen for them to wake up and realize it’s not a game.

“It’s absolutely terrible that someone had to die for people to start asking questions.”

Campbell-Pegg also lashed out at the lack of availability to the track in the months leading to the Games.

“It could have been avoided if they let us all do more training runs,” the outspoken Aussie said. “(Nodar) didn’t have a single training run for six weeks prior to the Olympics.”

Canadian officials have denied any wrongdoing, claiming their policies are no different than any other nation.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

POLL