Kripps joins Canadian sliders demanding cultural change

Two-time Olympic sled medalist Justin Kripps added his voice Tuesday to a growing chorus of Canadian athletes demanding sweeping changes to the country’s sled and framework federation, saying he stands with them.

Kripps, who won two gold medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and four bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics last month, is one of the few sliders to have gone public with opinion. Many athletes who say there is a “toxic culture” within the federation remain anonymous, saying they did so out of fear of retaliation.

“I can only speak from my own experience, and while I didn’t feel insecure or mistreated, I realize that doesn’t happen to a lot of people,” Kripps wrote in a social media post. “Winning an Olympic medal should not be a prerequisite for being treated with respect and it breaks my heart to hear that story unfold.”

More than 80 Canadian sled and skeleton athletes have asked several times in recent weeks to immediately step down from federation CEO Sarah Storey and high-performance director Chris Le Bihan. They also want an independent investigation into how they were treated. Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has offered mediation instead, which athletes say is insufficient.

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

A list of current issues that Canadian athletes wish to address include security, financial support, and concerns that the national team is not being chosen fairly.

“I encourage athletes who have such experience to file a complaint with (SafeSport),” Kripps wrote. “We have some phenomenal athletes, coaches and staff at BCS, but it’s clear none of us can progress unless there’s a change at the top.”

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

Laura Davis

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