Old French-Dutch match-fixing attempt surfaces at Olympics

Pyeongchang Olympics Speed Skating Men_723121

Alexis Contin of France competes during the men’s 1,500 meters speedskating race at the Gangneung Oval at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) The Dutch Olympic team was hit by a 4-year-old match-fixing scandal involving one of its speedskating coaches on Thursday.

The Dutch Olympic committee said it has officially warned Jillert Anema, who also worked for the French team, for an attempt at match-fixing in the Olympic team pursuit four years ago at the Sochi Games.

In a 2014 letter to Anema published Thursday, the committee chastised him for asking a Dutch team leader not to be too hard on the French squad in the quarterfinals because a humiliating result might have funding consequences for their team.

Anema is in Pyeongchang and is the trainer of Dutch speedskater Jorrit Bergsma and his American wife, Heather. Jorrit Bergsma is a medal favorite in the 10,000-meter race.

Anema was not immediately available for comment.

The 2014 letter said that such behavior countered the IOC code of ethics and the committee said it regrets the incident.

”We will leave it at this for the moment,” the committee said.

The Dutch team beat the French four years ago and went on to win the gold medal.

The Dutch Olympic committee, which published the letter after De Volkskrant newspaper wrote about it, said it regretted that the issue had to come up during the Pyeongchang Games.

Dutch technical director Arie Koops said Anema came up to him four years ago with the request.

”I was flabbergasted when it came, surprised that such a question could be asked,” Koops said Thursday. ”I told him, `No. I came here to win. I will not adapt my strategy to others.’

”He approaches me for another country so I have to take another country into account. I don’t do that.”

The issue highlighted the peculiar situation in a sport where one coach sometimes takes care of skaters from different nationalities at the games, and where some teams train together until they face off in Olympic races.

Maurizio Marchetto coaches the Italian national team and Dutch speedskater Marrit Leenstra. Australian coach Desly Hill also coaches skaters from different nationalities, including Dutch skater Koen Verweij.

”There may be something we can draw from this,” Koops said of the coaching situation. ”We’ll have to talk about this. In other international sports, you see it happen, too, and sometimes this is very tough.”

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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