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Kripps joins Canadian sliders who demand culture change

March 22, 2022 GMT

Two-time Olympic bobsled medalist Justin Kripps added his voice Tuesday to the growing chorus of Canadian athletes demanding major changes to that country’s bobsled and skeleton federation, saying he sides with them.

Kripps, who drove to a two-man gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and a four-man bronze at last month’s Beijing Games, is one of the few sliders who have gone public with an opinion. Many athletes who have said there is a “toxic culture” within the federation have remained anonymous, saying they’ve done so out of a fear of retribution.

“I can only speak to my own experience, and while I haven’t felt unsafe or mistreated, I’m aware that is not the case for many,” Kripps wrote in a social media post. “Winning an Olympic medal shouldn’t be a pre-requisite to being treated with respect and it breaks my heart to hear the stories coming to light.”

More than 80 Canadian bobsled and skeleton athletes have asked multiple times in recent weeks for the immediate resignation of federation CEO Sarah Storey and high performance director Chris Le Bihan. They also want an independent investigation into how they say they were treated. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has offered mediation instead, which athletes have said isn’t enough.

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This is not the first turbulent time in recent years for the Canadian program. Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries alleged that she was physically and emotionally abused during her time with the team, prompting her to switch to the U.S. program in 2019 and become a citizen last year in time to win a gold medal in women’s monobob at Beijing.

The current list of issues that Canadian athletes want addressed include safety, financial support and concerns that national teams are not selected fairly.

“I encourage the athletes who have had those experiences to file complaints with (SafeSport),” Kripps wrote. “We have some phenomenal athletes, coaches and staff at BCS, but clearly none of us can move forward unless there is change at the top.”

Canada won two bobsled medals in Beijing, both of them bronze. Kripps won one and the other was secured in monobob by Christine de Bruin, who told The Toronto Star that she got her medal “despite BCS.”