Arbitrator finds no proof Nardiello harassed U.S. Skeleton team
An arbitrator found no evidence to support claims that U.S. skeleton coach Tim Nardiello sexually harassed two members of his team, but even that wasn’t enough to determine if he’ll coach at the Turin Olympics next month.Top men’s slider Zach Lund, meanwhile, can start packing his bags – the team’s best hope for gold was publicly warned Monday but not suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over a failed drug test earlier this year.The U.S. Olympic Committee said Lund will race in Turin, but did not announce whether Nardiello will coach the four American sliders. The USOC was expected to make a decision on the coach sometime this week.Nardiello was suspended last month over the allegations, which he has repeatedly denied. He went to arbitration with the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation last week in Albany, N.Y. over the merit of those claims.The sides agreed before entering arbitration that the ruling would be binding, and if no credible evidence against Nardiello was found, he would be reinstated as head coach.
But Nardiello wasn’t immediately told what would happen, and the USBSF met Monday night to determine whether to allow him to coach the season’s final World Cup skeleton race in Altenberg, Germany, on Thursday and Friday.”I look forward to going back to the team and putting some numbers on the table,” Nardiello told The Associated Press. “That’s what I want to do. I want to coach. I would like to get on a plane Tuesday and get to Germany and get back to the team as soon as possible. I need to get over there.”Nardiello was suspended Dec. 31 after longtime team member Felicia Canfield wrote the USBSF’s board of directors alleging that Nardiello tried to kiss her, touch her inappropriately and made comments of a sexual nature to her and other female athletes.Her claims, combined with a letter written by Marsha Gale – the mother of 2002 Olympic gold medalist Tristan Gale – prompted the board to suspend Nardiello. Marsha Gale wrote that Nardiello also made inappropriate comments, and commented that Nardiello’s relationship with a competitor from New Zealand was unprofessional.U.S. skeleton athlete Amanda Bird, who did not make this year’s national team, was one of those who testified on Nardiello’s behalf. Bird said she was thrilled by the arbitrator’s decision.”I’ve been holding my breath the whole time waiting for the answer to come because I knew it would be positive for Tim,” Bird said. “When I found out, I was ecstatic. … Anything Tim has ever said to me hasn’t been uncomfortable or harassing. I’ve never been harassed by Tim.”
Reached at his home after the arbitrator’s ruling was announced, Brady Canfield – a board member and Felicia Canfield’s husband – referred questions to Salt Lake City attorney Mark Gaylord, who is representing six people who filed grievances against Nardiello. Gaylord declined immediate comment, saying he wanted to wait to see what the board did in its meeting Monday night first.Nardiello and several members of the U.S. national team have said the claims were brought because Felicia Canfield and Tristan Gale did not make this year’s Olympic team.”Our federation has been through hell these last few weeks,” Lund said. “We need to get past all this and start to think only about the Olympics for a little while.”Lund tested positive for Finasteride, the main ingredient in a common hair-restoration product that can also be used as a steroid-masking agent, at a competition in November. He was barred from the past two World Cup races, but argued that he was using the product as intended – to grow hair.The USADA ordered that Lund forfeit his second-place finish from the season’s opening World Cup race in Calgary, Alberta in November, but did not penalize him further. Lund was the World Cup overall points leader and an Olympic favorite before being sanctioned earlier this month.
“I’m glad USADA saw it for what it was, a mistake and nothing else,” Lund said. “I had a very strong case. I had all the evidence that I needed to prove that it was a harmless, honest mistake. I could show that I’m not on performance-enhancing drugs and they handled it in the right way.”Lund hopes to compete in this weekend’s World Cup finale.”We felt that the circumstances of the cases warranted the minimum possible sanction under the rules and we’re glad that USADA agreed,” said Howard Jacobs, Lund’s attorney.Lund has taken hair-restoration products since 1999 and has always declared them on his medical forms that get filled out before competition. He is no longer taking Proscar, the pill he was using at the time of the positive drug test, and is even avoiding multivitamins and other over-the-counter products, just to be safe.”I have learned my lesson,” Lund said. “If this was God’s way of telling me that he wants me to go bald, I get the message.”Skeleton athletes slide headfirst on a sled at more than 70 mph on the track used for bobsled and luge.
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