USOC will not credential Nardiello for Turin Games
The U.S. Olympic Committee will not allow Tim Nardiello to coach the American skeleton team at next month’s Turin Games, despite his reinstatement by the sport’s national governing body after an arbitrator found no evidence to support claims he sexually harassed two team members.The USOC said its investigation found that Nardiello failed to exercise appropriate judgment with his athletes, violated ethical codes and the USOC Code of Conduct. It also said the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation initially planned to fire Nardiello after the Olympics, citing that as another factor.”It is our belief there has been a pattern of conduct on the part of Mr. Nardiello that simply does not meet the standard of what is acceptable for a coach with the United States Olympic Team,” said Jim Scherr, the USOC’s chief executive officer.Nardiello said he wasn’t sure what he’d do next, and that he was “baffled” by the USOC’s move.”I’m at ease,” Nardiello told The Associated Press. “At least I know what’s happening. It’s unfortunate. There’s obviously a political game going on that I don’t know about. They say I’m guilty of their whole book.”Scherr also had harsh words for the USBSF, saying the federation’s actions were “equally troubling” because it “could have taken steps to address and correct this situation.””As a result, America’s skeleton athletes have had to deal with an unnecessary distraction during their preparation for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, and that is unacceptable,” Scherr said.The USBSF declined comment Tuesday night. Attempts to reach members of the U.S. World Cup skeleton team by phone were not successful; the group is in Germany, where it was early Wednesday by the time the news broke.Nardiello was suspended by the USBSF on Dec. 31 over allegations he sexually harassed two national team members. When an arbitrator announced Monday he found those claims without merit, the USBSF allowed Nardiello’s return.But the USOC – which has final say over the Olympic delegation – still denied Nardiello a credential.Nardiello could now simply accept the USOC’s ruling, coach the U.S. team until the Olympics begin, appeal the decision, or even seek a coaching credential from another nation.The USBSF bought Nardiello a $1,200 ticket on Tuesday for a trip to Altenberg, Germany – site of this week’s World Cup races – but he never left Lake Placid, N.Y. because he was told a decision loomed.”I could still get there on Thursday, see the men’s race on Friday and work with my team up until the games, because I am the coach,” Nardiello said.Nardiello’s suspension came after longtime team member Felicia Canfield wrote the USBSF’s board of directors alleging he tried to kiss her, touch her inappropriately and made comments of a sexual nature to her and other female athletes.Another claim was filed by Marsha Gale, the mother of 2002 Olympic gold medalist Tristan Gale. Marsha Gale also said Nardiello made inappropriate comments, plus urged the board to dismiss him because he’s dating a competitor from New Zealand.”She was doing what a mother does, trying to make sure she was doing the best for her daughter,” Tristan Gale said Tuesday before the USOC’s ruling.Nardiello’s supporters have maintained the accusations stemmed from Canfield and Tristan Gale not being considered for this year’s Olympic team. Tristan Gale denies that, and said that Nardiello could have been an effective Olympic coach.”The group that we have going are great athletes and great drivers and the head coach’s position is to support them,” Tristan Gale said. “And as long as they feel supported by Tim, he probably can do a great job there with that group.”But that group – Zach Lund, Kevin Ellis, Eric Bernotas and Katie Uhlaender – will be without Nardiello. The men all have said they wanted Nardiello to coach in Turin; Uhlaender has said little publicly about the matter.The USBSF has until Thursday to pick its Olympic coach. Orvie Garrett, named the interim coach after Nardiello’s suspension, is likely a favorite for the job.Meanwhile, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation lifted Lund’s suspension on Tuesday, one day after he was publicly warned – but not suspended – by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over a failed drug test earlier this season.But the FIBT also said the World Anti-Doping Agency is reviewing USADA’s decision “for a possible appeal” – indicating Lund could face further sanctioning for testing positive for finasteride, the main ingredient in a common hair-restoration product that also can be used as a steroid-masking agent.Lund was the World Cup points leader before missing the last two races following the FIBT’s suspension over the failed test. He has rejoined the team, but is expected to miss Friday’s race.Skeleton athletes slide headfirst on a sled at more than 70 mph on the track used for bobsled and luge.
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