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Nardiello Gets Favorable Ruling

Arbitrator finds no evidence to substantiate sexual harassment claims against U.S. skeleton coach.

January 24, 2006|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

An arbitrator Monday found no evidence to substantiate claims of sexual harassment leveled at U.S. skeleton Coach Tim Nardiello. But U.S. Olympic officials said it remained uncertain whether he will coach at next month's Turin Olympics.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. men's skeleton racer, Zach Lund, was issued a public warning but not suspended by U.S. anti-doping officials over a failed drug test linked to a hair-restoration potion. Lund, widely considered a legitimate Olympic medal contender, is eligible to compete in Turin, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced.

And, in a day marked by the latest turn in perhaps that most enduring of pre-Games rituals, litigation over the makeup of the U.S. team, snowboarder Chris Klug said that he deserves to be on the 2006 team, not Tyler Jewell, who had been announced Sunday as the sole U.S. entrant in the parallel giant slalom event. The USOC said the case would proceed to arbitration this week.

Klug, 33, won a bronze medal in the event at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, 18 months after undergoing a liver transplant. He finished sixth in 1998 at the Games in Nagano, Japan.

Neither Klug nor Jewell, 28, met the primary qualification criterion -- finishing in the top four of a World Cup competition.

Klug contends he should have been chosen based on the higher average of his top two results. The event resembles a classic slalom race -- twisting through gates while roaring down a mountainside, albeit on a snowboard instead of skis.

Lund tested positive Nov. 10 at a World Cup event in Calgary, Canada, for finasteride, a banned substance that can be used to mask steroid use; he said he hadn't been doping, just using a hair-restoration product.

Lund had been ranked No. 1 in the world when provisionally suspended two weeks ago, pending the USADA ruling announced Monday. Skeleton involves racing solo on a sled down a bobsled track, headfirst and at high speed.

"We're thrilled with the result," said his lawyer, Howard Jacobs of Los Angeles, noting that Lund had fully cooperated with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, even making his doctors available "to corroborate that his story was legitimate."

Nardiello, reinstated late Monday as skeleton coach, according to the Associated Press, must now face a separate USOC investigation; that inquiry is expected to be completed this week. The Turin Games begin Feb. 10. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

"Our investigation is focused on how these allegations impact the United States Olympic team," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said.

The U.S. bobsled and skeleton federation moved Dec. 31 to suspend Nardiello after a veteran racer, Felicia Canfield, alleged that he had tried to kiss and touch her and had made sexually related comments to her and other female athletes.

The mother of 2002 Olympic gold medalist Tristan Gale, meantime, also alleged that Nardiello had made inappropriate comments.

Nardiello and his supporters have said that the claims against him were brought because Canfield and Gale did not make the 2006 U.S. team.

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Times staff writer Pete Thomas contributed to this report.

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