Speed Skate Cheat Gets Two-Year Suspension

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Don't think speed skating is just about throwing on your blades and going as fast as you possibly can. It's a tough, physical sport. Just watch the Winter Olympics. Competitors cut in front of each other, they jostle for position, and they do this while cruising on long and sharp high-performance blades. Well, now a top US speed skater has been suspended from the sport for two years because he tampered with the skates of his Canadian rival. Past Olympic medalist Simon Cho admits he sabotaged the skates of Olivier Jean during the World Team Championship in 2011. Cho's suspension means he will miss the next Winter Games in Russia next year. Yves Hamelin joins us from Montreal now. He oversees the short track event for Speed Skating Canada. Explain what happened. How did Simon actually mess with Olivier Jean's skates?

Yves Hamelin: We were right prior a relay event involving four skaters per team, and as usual Olivier put on his skates and jump on the ice, just for preparing, getting ready for the start. And then suddenly he clearly understood that he was unable to skate, and he had to get back to the center of the ice and let the other three athletes alone for the relay. So obviously our team finished last, and after the event our team and our coaches and our technical staff did check the blade, but it was pretty obvious that the blade has been tampered.

Werman: When you say the blade was tampered with, did Simon Cho actually try and unscrew it or did he kind of hammer at it? What did he do?

Hamelin: The way the damage has been observed, we have a typical tool that we use for creating a bend into these blades, so it was kind of the same tool that has been used and the bend has been done but the other way, so that the blade was totally unusable.

Werman: It sounds pretty easy, if somebody was so inclined, to sabotage somebody else's skates. How often does this happen?

Hamelin: Never seen that before, and we hope that we won't see it again. It's never something that we even worry about, so we don't check or double-check or pay attention to the equipment. We never seen that before. So it was a very unfortunate event, but we know that it's not the type of thing that we will see in the future.

Werman: We tried to speak with Olivier Jean today. He passed on the interview, wanting to put this whole thing behind him. Will he be competing in Sochi? We know that Simon Cho is out, but what about Olivier?

Hamelin: We had our Olympic selection in the past three weeks and Olivier qualified, so Olivier will be at Sochi Olympic Games.

Werman: Alright, congratulations to Olivier Jean from Canada. Yves Hamelin, who is the program director in short track for Speed Skating Canada. Thanks for speaking to us.

Hamelin: You're welcome.