Lueders cries shame

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Pierre Lueders says shame on Giulio Zardo and shame on Danny Maciocia.

Zardo is gonzo from the back of Lueders's bobsleds and he says shame on Zardo for not caring enough about Canada and ditto the Edmonton Eskimos.

"It's too bad," said Lueders, Edmonton's world champion pilot about losing his brakeman to his hometown football team.

"Really, it's a waste. It's too bad for Canada.

"He had a great chance to do great things in the two-man and the four-man.

'IT'S SO SAD'

"It's so sad. There is no greater honour than to represent your country. Here's an athlete who doesn't think that's important, I guess.

"I can't help but believe this is a case of a football organization trying to take liberties, finding an athlete going through an emotional time of stress and making him hear things he wants to hear."

In a French language interview Zardo told media he was giving up a shot at an Olympic medal for a chance to be a special teams player for the new Eskimos' head coach.

"To be honest I haven't had much fun with the Canadian bobsleigh team," he was quoted as saying.

Maciocia resents any suggestion that a Canadian Football League team is out to mess with the Canadian Olympic Team.

"My answer to that is to ask why. Why is Zardo resigning?

"A lot has to do with how he was treated by Canadian bobsleighing.

"He's decided to move on to bigger and better things and if they want to know who to blame, all they have to do is look in the mirror," Maciocia said.

"As for the Eskimos, we're just taking a chance on an opportunity which has come to us. I never thought this would happen. And I didn't go looking for it."

News broke last week that the Eskimos were pushing to sign Lueders's pusher.

He was placed on the team's negotiation list. Lueders said he opened an e-mail when he returned home for lunch after a morning practice session.

"He's pulled the plug. I haven't spoken to him at all, which I find odd in itself," said Lueders.

"I received an e-mail from him which simply said he's quit the sport of bobsleigh. Received on e-mail this morning. It was once sentence to the president and director of Bobsleigh Canada and myself: 'I'm resigning as an athlete.'

"There were no specifics. No reasons. Just 'I'm quitting bobsleigh'."

Zardo, from Montreal, played junior football for the St. Leonard Cougars and for Team Canada at the Global Junior at the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000.

Lueders, who won the two-man Olympic gold medal at Nagano in 1998 with Dave MacEachern as his brakeman, won the world championship two years ago in Konigsee, Germany and last year's World Cup championship with Zardo pushing.

With Zardo suspended for allegedly punching his coach Lueders won the two-man world championships and finished third in the four-man with Lascelles Brown in his sleds, the question became if the graduate of the Cool Runnings Jamaican Bobsled Team had won himself a permanent position as Lueders's pusher.

Lueders would have loved to have had both on board for the Olympic year.

"It's a disappointment, obviously. To be so close to the Olympics and winning an Olympic medal or two ... Who would give up that opportunity?" asked Lueders. "Obviously here's a guy who would," he answered his question himself.

"It doesn't make sense to me.

"Beyond myself, I feel sorry for the fellas who slide with him. You have friendships beyond sport. He didn't let those athletes know. I feel bad for those guys."

Lueders speculated that an incident on Dec. 11 when Zardo allegedly took a swing at a Canadian coach and was suspended for the rest of the season probably played a part in it.

"The suspension obviously had something to do with it. I can't be held accountable for the decisions people make.

"If they want to quit and not represent their country, that's up to them."

'UNDERLYING ISSUES'

He added "there may have been underlying issues of having to compete for a spot."

With the success Brown had as brakeman, it wasn't automatic that Zardo would be in the Canada 1 sleds.

Maciocia said Zardo has yet to sign a contract with the Eskimos.

"He had to take care of the bobsleigh thing first.

"Obviously he's done that. Now we can go on to the next step."


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