OTTAWA — Just as the best curlers in Canada were about to step onto the ice for afternoon games in Ottawa on Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The news was met with nearly universal approval.
Marc Kennedy won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010 as a member of the Kevin Martin team. He didn’t mince his words about the decision.
“This is a punishment that fits the crime but I’m surprised. I didn’t think they would do it. Good for them,” Kennedy said. “It’s been proven it was state-sponsored and they should be punished accordingly. I’m 100 per cent in support of the decision.”
Kennedy said he’s proud of the IOC and he knows there are athletes around the world excited about the decision, mainly for what it represents in terms of legitimacy for the Olympic movement.
“I can only imagine what it would be like for us if Russia was a medal contender in curling,” Kennedy said. “They are in other sports and I don’t know what it would be like to know they’re cheating and winning medals. That’s awful.”
Jennifer Jones won curling gold for Canada in Sochi. She also supports the IOC’s decision.
“As an athlete all you want to do is compete against one another on a level playing field and so that means clean sport. We work hard to make sure we’re clean,” she said.
Tested before trials
Jones said they were all tested just before they arrived to compete in the Roar of the Rings, Canada’s Olympic trials.
“We check everything that we put into our body to make sure it’s okay,” Jones said. “You’re always a little nervous to try anything new. Unfortunately we have to be so careful because some athletes don’t abide by the rules.”
Winning gold alongside Jones in Sochi was Brad Jacobs. He said their team is also very careful about what they put in their body.
“You need to be very careful,” he said. “You need to make sure whatever medications you’re taking, whatever substances you’re taking for training, are all legal.”
Jacobs fully supports the decision to ban the Russian Olympic team and says as Canadian athletes who won gold, they take pride in competing clean.
“We’re clean athletes. We promote being clean,” he said. “Everybody has to follow the rules or things like this will happen. We want to play against people who are following the rules. It was a good decision and hopefully this doesn’t happen again.”
During those same Games Canadian curlers won gold in Sochi, Russian curlers finished off the podium.