Olympian Kaillie Humphries confirms she wants to compete for U.S.
Published Friday, September 13, 2019 8:21AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 13, 2019 3:00PM EDT
TORONTO – Kaillie Humphries, two-time Olympic bobsleigh champion, is looking to compete for the U.S. after filing a harassment claim against Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS), the national governing body for athletes competing in those sled sports last year, she confirmed Friday.
In a statement emailed to CTV News through her agent Russell Reimer, Humphries wrote that she is “seeking a full release” from BCS after filing a harassment complaint last August.
“I was in a position where my workplace environment was impaired and I couldn’t compete,” her statement says. “It has been over a year and they [BCS] have not completed their internal investigation.”
Humphries said she has done “everything” she can, but cannot return to a work environment she doesn’t believe is safe.
Humphries had stepped away from competition after filing her complaint last year. Humphries previously won gold medals in the Vancouver 2010 and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
Seeking to assure her Canadian fans, Humphries clarified that she is not “choosing to leave Canada,” but is leaving BCS because she can “no longer be a part of… an unsafe work environment,” and does not want to be “forced into retirement.”
“I want to continue my athletic career. This has been the most difficult ordeal of my life,” she wrote. “I want Canada to know that competing for you, and winning for you at the Olympics will always be the highlight of my career.”
In an emailed statement to CTV News, BCS spokesman Chris Dornan said that “Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton abides by its harassment and discrimination policy that has been in place since 2006,” and that while the litigation matter of Humphries’ complaint is “the subject of an open court process” they will not be providing any comment on the investigation.
What is Humphries alleging?
In a series of court documents sent to CTV News from Humphries’ lawyer, including the statement of claim and a personal affidavit, Humphries alleges “verbal and mental abuse, abuse of power, personal public embarrassment and inappropriate behaviour with female athletes” during the 2017/2018 season by head coach Todd Hays, and inaction by BCS officials, including the president Sarah Storey and director Chris LeBihan, after she brought her concerns forward.
Humphries alleges in her personal affidavit that she learned that Hays is “the subject of similar complaints including claims of physical abuse of female athletes who are members of the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.”
Recalling several events through the pages of the statement of claim and personal affidavit, Humphries alleges that Hays would “scream” and “verbally abuse” her in front of her teammates, members of the media and public, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation and members of the USA bobsleigh team.
In a detailed incident in Igls, Austria during a 2017 World Cup Event has Humphries alleging that Hays became “verbally abusive and loud” during a disagreement over a massage Humphries was to receive – which led to him expressing “personal and professional attacks” for “over an hour.”
When Humphries brought her concerns directly after the incident to Storey, who was at the World Cup Event, Storey allegedly told Humphries it was “not possible” to grant her request to have “nothing to do with Mr. Hays ever again” as Hays was the head coach.
Humphries alleges in her affidavit and statement of claim that Hays appeared intoxicated during the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and was a “major distraction.” Other claims say Humphries did not receive information she is entitled to about attending national training and selection camps that would allow her to return to competition.
Humphries says she sent a letter requesting a release from BCS on August 3, 2019, in order to compete for the United States Women’s National Bobsleigh Team, and was told on August 22 that she would not receive the release until the investigation into her harassment complaint was complete.
Humphries alleges that the failure to provide the release is “willful” on the part of BCS and the named parties. She is suing for her release and for “general damages in the amount of $15,000,000.”
CTVNews.ca reached out to both BCS who chose to stand by their initial statement, and Hays, who was approached directly for comment but has yet to respond.