Sunday 18 August 2019

Mudslinging starts over speed skating race fixing: who leaked what?

A major row has erupted in the Dutch skating world over who leaked what to the Volkskrant newspaper about the formal warning for race fixing given to Jorrit Bergsma’s coach at the Sochi Olympics.

The Volkskrant reported on Thursday morning that Jillert Anema, who was coaching the French team pursuit team in 2014, had tried to get the Dutch team to slow the pace in their race so as not to threaten the French team’s funding.

Anema also coaches Jorrit Bergsma, who was defending his Olympic 10 kilometre speed skating title later in the day and skating fans were furious about the timing of the publication.

In the event, Bergsma lost the title to Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen. Sven Kramer, Bergsma’s arch rival who had been hoping to take the gold medal, was sixth.

Bergsma, interviewed by NOS radio after winning silver in the 10,000 metres, implied that arch rival Sven Kramer was behind the leak.

‘It is obvious where it comes from. There is only one person who would want to upset our team and myself,’ Bergsma said. Asked if it was Kramer, he answered ‘that is quite clear. It would not be the first time.’


The Volkskrant, which broke the initial story, blames the Dutch sports body instead. In a website article responding to readers about the timing of the publication, the paper’s ombudsman said the NOC*NSF had sent a reaction to a more general interview with Anema at midnight Korean time.

‘So we turned the interview into a news artice,’ the ombudsman said. ‘We could have waited to publish but that did not feel right. The timing of the publication is a consequence of the NOC*NSF’s action. The organisation could have waited a day if it had wanted to protect its skater.’

The paper said it had been aware that Anema had been given an official warning ‘at some point in the past few years’.

Bergsma later apologised for his comments. ‘I was wrong and I have told the Kramer camp that,’ he told television programme Studio Sport. has been free for 12 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
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