Olympic gold medalist Nils van der Poel has accused the Dutch speed skating program of ‘corruption’ over a report that officials are trying to influence ice makers to put in place conditions that benefit people. Dutch athletes.
Van der Poel made his scathing comments at a press conference at the Olympic Village on Wednesday, three days after his victory in the 5,000 meters gave Sweden its first speed skating medal since 1988.
“It’s not my idea of fair play,” van der Poel said. “The Olympics are higher, stronger, faster. It’s corruption. It’s trying to change the playing field in your favor using unethical and immoral means.”
Van der Poel said he had read an article on a Dutch website that suggested the world’s strongest team was using a scientist to try to ensure the Ice Ribbon oval was put in place at its advantage.
While saying he has faith in Mark Messer, who oversees the ice, van der Poel said the Dutch program deserves punishment if the report is true.
“It’s the biggest scandal in our sport,” he said. “We have doping cases in our sport from time to time. I don’t see how it’s any less serious.”
Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks reportedly called van der Poel’s comments “unworthy of an Olympic champion“.
“Ice temperature measurement has been going on for 20 years,” Hendriks told Dutch media. “And anyone who comes to the rink more often sees that all countries are in contact with the ice master.”
The Netherlands won three of the first four Ice Ribbon events and won a total of six medals, matching the combined total of all other countries. The Netherlands has also dominated speed skating at the last two Olympics.
“I don’t think Mark Messer would have been fooled into doing anything with ice cream,” van der Poel said. “But knowing that there is (a) guy trying to show him data to put himself in his head to make decisions for the benefit of Dutch skaters, I find that very provocative.”
Van der Poel stressed that he was not criticizing his Dutch rivals. He edged out Patrick Roest of the Netherlands for the gold medal in the 5,000m.
“I have the greatest respect for Dutch speed skaters.” Van der Poel said. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for those guys. They pushed me to surpass myself. »
Van der Poel said he was eager to see what action the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union could take.
In the meantime, his attention turns to the 10,000m on Friday, when van der Poel will be the favorite but may face another tough challenge from the Dutch.
“It’s an abomination,” van der Poel said. “I like it to be fair, to be fair. I like that it’s about sport and competition. I hope that it is not a question of affecting the judges, of affecting the administrative staff.
“When you do things like that, we really have to question the authenticity of the results.”