by Irvin Muchnick
Admirably, the CBC in Canada reported on the administrative bust, by Speed Skating Canada, of Michael Crowe, the national team head coach. Crowe will not be part of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, while the organization sorts through a history of complaints of his sleeping with his athletes.
The CBC, which will be broadcasting the Winter Games, may be done with the Crowe story, which has negative entertainment value. But a big set of questions hovers: Was Speed Skating Canada unaware of Crowe’s checkered U.S. past when it hired him in 2007 and promoted him to head coach in 2015?
Crowe was US Speedskating national sprint coach for the 1992 Olympics (back before the Winter Games went on off-leap year cycles to alternate with the Summer Games). American whistleblower Eva Rodansky asserts, with a lot of supporting evidence, that Crowe got moved to long track high performance director — a position that separated him from direct contact with athletes — after the scandal of his affair with one of his skaters that year. In 2006, Crowe was eased out of the program altogether and moved on to Canada.
It is hard to believe that Speed Skating Canada didn’t know at least the outlines of these allegations. Nor does it seem responsible for US Speedskating to have simply let Crowe go, largely on the basis of such misconduct, and allowed him to become another country’s problem. Crowe is yet another illustration of an Olympics sports system that allows bad-actor coaches to skate across national boundaries — in this case literally.
Bonnie Blair is the most decorated female speedskater in U.S. history; she is also a longtime member of the board of directors of US Speedskating. According to Canadian sources, Blair told journalists inquiring into the Crowe story that she knows nothing about what precipitated his departure from the U.S. That is implausible.
I have not been able to locate contact information for Blair. I’ll be tweeting this article to her and soliciting her response. But I don’t mean to single out Blair; all of US Speedskating has some explaining to do regarding coach Mike Crowe. Here’s the complete alphabetical list of the organization’s board for the 2000-02 term, when the Crowe rumors first blew up:
Bonnie Blair Cruikshank
Leah Poulos Mueller
Michael Crowe, Defrocked American Team Speedskating Coach, Now Has the Same Job in Canada Published May 7th, 2015
US Speedskating Bad Actor Michael Crowe Is Shelved by Speed Skating Canada Published January 17th, 2018
Story of Defrocked U.S. Olympic Speedskating Coach Michael Crowe Blows Up at Speed Skating Canada … A Twitter Feed Published January 19th, 2018