Dutch believe Canadian coach was in on bribe

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:22 PM ET

A joint investigation by the Netherlands’ national Olympic committee and speedskating association concluded that a Polish athlete was offered a bribe to withdraw from a Turin 2006 race.

The report, published Thursday, said Dutch speedskater Gretha Smit handed Katarzyna Wojicka a note offering 50,000 Euros if she chose not to start the 5,000 metre race. Smit, the 2002 silver medalist, was the first alternate.

The report said Smit’s coach Ingrid Paul was involved in discussions aimed at inducing Wojicka to withdraw. Paul coached Canada’s Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic team.

Wojicka refused the offer and finished last. She revealed the bribe attempt on a Dutch TV documentary last December. Dutch sport authorities immediately launched an investigation.

Paul denied in December that she offered a bribe, but did admit asking whether any skaters would consider giving up their spot for Smit.

The report quoted Turin gold medallist Clara Hughes, who carried Canada’s flag at the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony. Hughes said she heard the Dutch were offering 30,000 Euros.

“Everyone was laughing because the Dutch believed they could actually buy into the spotlight race,” Hughes said, according to a translation of the report.

Neither Paul nor Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive Jean Dupre could be reached for comment Thursday. Dupre was director general of Speed Skating Canada until April.

Speed Skating Canada spokeswoman Mylene Croteau said Paul’s contract has expired.

“This is a Dutch incident that is being dealt with by the Dutch federation, and we will let them sort it out internally,” Croteau said.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca


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