U.S. Bobsledder Out After Suspension Is Upheld
Tuesday, February 10, 1998; Page C4
A U.S. bobsledder was removed from the Olympic team after his drug suspension was upheld by an arbitrator, who urged the athlete stay in Nagano because he was guilty only of carelessness and further punishment would be "distasteful."
Michael Dionne, a pusher on the No. 3 four-man sled, was moved out of the Olympic Village and into a downtown hotel by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which gave him an official's credential so he could watch the Games. It said he could keep his uniform but was no longer on the squad.
Dionne, from Alpharetta, Ga., asked the International Council for Arbitration in Sports to overturn his suspension, imposed after a World Cup meet in Calgary in November, because he had taken the drug ephedrine as part of a cold medicine.
In ruling Wednesday (Tuesday night EST), arbitrator Jan Paulsson, a French attorney, said the suspension must stand even though he accepted Dionne's contention of inadvertent use.
"Mr. Dionne is not accused of dishonesty but of carelessness," Paulsson's decision said.
He urged that the sledder be allowed to stay in Nagano.
"For Mr. Dionne to be requested to leave the games would be a distasteful further punishment not intended by the FIBT [international bobsled federation]," Paulsson wrote.
The USOC, which supported Dionne's appeal, said Paulsson's ruling was out of the ordinary.
"The arbitrator made it very clear that he [Dionne] is not a cheater, that he is a good individual, that it was inadvertent and that it would be inhumane for him to be asked to leave the games," USOC Executive Director Dick Schultz said. "It's very unusual."
It also was one of the few times the ICAS has ruled against an athlete. Established by the International Olympic Committee to handle eligibility disputes and keep them out of the courts, the council repeatedly has overturned drug suspensions, including several at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Dionne's suspension, retroactive to Nov. 22, was announced by the FIBT as the sledder was headed for the USOC's team processing center in Osaka, Japan.
Kariya Might Not Play
Canada begins play Friday against Belarus. Kariya, a two-time NHL all-star with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, is feeling the effects of a Feb. 1 concussion.
"We know we have a great player in Mark Recchi who is ready to come over," assistant Canada coach Andy Murray said. "But the player who comes over, the first game there would be a period of adjustment."
Kariya, a Canadian of Japanese descent who would surely rival Wayne Gretzky in popularity here, was expected to visit doctors in Los Angeles before a final determination could be made.
But Kariya, 23, hasn't played since he was leveled by a head-high forearm delivered by Chicago's Gary Suter. It was Kariya's fourth concussion, and his second in a little more than a year.
Bad Choice of Words
"It was within the confines of the sport of luge," spokesman Sandy Caligiore said. "We're talking about a German luge racer and the technological advances he had over other lugers, period."
After Hackl took the lead in the first run of the men's singles on Sunday, the United States and Canada protested the new booties he and other German racers wore. Caligiore told Nagano '98, the Games' official newspaper, that Hackl probably would have done well even if he'd worn snowshoes.
"He's just that kind of racer. It's like giving a superpower the atom bomb," Caligiore told the paper.
The protest was thrown out, and Hackl won his third straight gold medal on Monday.
"In using hyperbole, maybe I should have used a different analogy," Caligiore said.
Japan is the only country to have the atomic bomb used against it.
Dutch Skater Out
Wennemars, 23, suffered the injury Tuesday when Norway's Grunde Njos crashed into him coming off the final turn. The Dutchman also was entered in the 1,000 and 1,500, but the injury will prevent him from further racing.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
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