TORONTO -- Canadian bobsleigh athlete and Olympic gold-medalist Justin Kripps spoke in support of athletic governing body Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS), as fellow two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries is currently suing the organization to release her so she can compete for the United States.
Humphries, a gold medalist in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, filed a harassment complaint last year against the team’s head coach, Todd Hays, citing “verbal and mental abuse” among other charges, but said the organization has yet to complete their investigation after more than a year, leaving her no choice but to seek a full release from BCS.
Justin Kripps, who won gold in the two-man bobsleigh with Alexander Kopacz at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, defended the team environment.
“Our team culture is really good, we compete and train in a positive, safe environment. That's my opinion and that's the opinion of most of the World Cup athletes that I've talked to,” said Kripps to CTV News' Alberta bureau chief Janet Dirks.
For three-time Olympic medalist figure skater Patrick Chan however, who has been to two Olympic Games with Humphries, he said has many great memories with her and is saddened by the news.
“Whenever we lose a fellow athlete from Canada, it hits us hard,” Chan said. “I’m not in her shoes, all I can do is support her and her passion for excellence and to be successful.”
Chan hopes what is happening will motivate Canadian sports bodies to continue to strive for the right training environment.
“From athlete to athlete, we know that sacrifices have to be made, and to trust the athlete to make the decision and the right one,” said Chan. “I just find it sad, because we are losing a friend.”
What is Humphries alleging?
In her affidavit, Humphries wrote, "I have felt disrespected, degraded, demoralized, worthless, unsafe, emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.” She further alleged that Hays is the subject of similar complaints from female athlete members of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
She could not return to work in an environment that she did not believe was safe, Humphries said in an earlier statement to CTV News.
Humphries’s lawyer, Jeffrey Rath, said she wanted to compete for Canada but BCS made it impossible.
“There were two training camps, one in June, one in September, that she needed to attend in order to compete for the team. She wasn't invited to either one,” Rath said. “Then she was told if were to come back, she'd be competing with a sled that was made in 1991 that in her perspective, wasn't even safe.”
Rath will be in court on Monday, asking BCS to provide a release letter immediately so that Humphries can qualify for the U.S. team, which has a training camp on Wednesday. Humphries married former American bobsledder Travis Armbruster, on Saturday in San Diego.
BCS is not commenting on the specifics of the case, citing privacy and the ongoing investigation.