Dutch skating coach tried to influence Sochi race, to protect his French team

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A Dutch skating coach, who was coaching the French team pursuit team at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, tried to get the Dutch team to slow the pace in their race, the Volkskrant said on Wednesday.

Jillert Anema was given an official warning by the Dutch Olympic committee NOC*NSF for trying to influence the race in order to protect the French team’s sponsorship, the paper said.

The Dutch sports body has confirmed that Anema was given a written warning about his behaviour in Sochi.

Anema is said to have approached the Dutch pursuit team coach Arie Koops and asked him not to let his squad skate too fast because one of the French team was sick and not up to skating.

If the Dutch overtook the French team, they could lose not only face, but financial support, Anema is reported to have said.

Koops rejected the appeal outright and reported Anema to the Dutch sports body. The Netherlands went on to win gold.

The timing of today’s revelation is opportune because Anema also coaches Jorrit Bergsma, who is defending his Olympic 10 kilometre speed skating title later on Thursday.

Jeroen Bijl, who heads the Dutch mission to the Olympic games in Korea, has said the timing of the Volkskrant story is ‘a disturbance and bad for the team’.