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Nardiello Is Dropped as U.S. Skeleton Coach

USOC removes him from Olympic team even though he got a favorable ruling in a sexual harassment case.

January 25, 2006|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Olympic Committee, acting only one day after an arbitrator ruled there was no evidence to prove sexual harassment claims against U.S. skeleton Coach Tim Nardiello, announced Tuesday it would not allow him to guide the team at next month's Turin Olympics.

Nardiello has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. The USOC said Nardiello had violated ethics codes. The USOC also said it had "serious concerns" about "inappropriate interactions" on his part, "including a failure to exercise appropriate judgment."

"It is our belief there has been a pattern of conduct on the part of Mr. Nardiello that simply does not meet the standard of what is acceptable for a coach with the United States Olympic team," said Jim Scherr, the USOC's chief executive.

The USOC's move was expected. The USOC has in recent years taken a much harder line in reviewing the administration and organization of its member federations, as in the run-up to the 2004 Olympics in Athens when it threatened to decertify the U.S. track and field federation unless track officials produced certain doping-related files.

Scherr noted in a statement issued by the USOC that "equally troubling" was the way the U.S. bobsled and skeleton federation handled the matter, saying it "long ago could have taken steps to address and correct this situation."

Nardiello has a variety of coaching and legal options still available before the Feb. 10 opening ceremony in Turin. Should Nardiello file a further grievance, that litigation is likely to examine the differences between the USOC investigation and the arbitration -- and how they could have come to such different conclusions. Nardiello's attorney, James Brooks of Lake Placid, N.Y., could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

The USOC said it interviewed 12 skeleton athletes, three people with links to the bobsled federation, Nardiello and "others."

The arbitration ran for 23 hours over two days and afforded opportunities to Nardiello's accusers to make their case and him the chance to cross-examine. The USOC inquiry did not include cross-examination.

The bobsled and skeleton federation moved Dec. 31 to suspend Nardiello after a veteran racer, Felicia Canfield, alleged 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 also alleged that Nardiello made inappropriate comments.

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

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